Friday, December 16, 2016

Homeschoolers: You Don't Have to Answer the Door to Child Protective Services (SRS, DFS) Like I Did



Let's sit down together and have a cup of coffee or tea and have a chat, fellow homeschool mom, young or seasoned, new to homeschooling or veteran.

So you’re going along thinking you are a rockin’ parent and that your spouse is also a rockin’ parent. You are amazed that nobody has given you too much crap for homeschooling and for parenting in a fun, laid-back-ish manner and for having 5 kids;  oh, and for breastfeeding! After all, the kids are well-fed, healthy, smart, kind and, well, just normal kids who happen to be loved very much. A couple sleep together, one sleeps on her own and you still have two in your bed. Your kids are SAFE and very well cared for.

Then there is a knock on your door and it is a state child agency saying they want to talk to you. You are a rockin’ parent, like I said, so you have nothing to hide and so you let them in. They proceed to spew lies told to them by an anonymous someone, but you know who it is based on some things that have happened before and specific words that are said that have been said before by nobody else. (*Update 2016: Whew, so nice that I can now call these people out: that "someone" were our neighbors behind us and thankfully they have finally moved!)

The things that are true are things like the fact that your kids go barefoot in their own backyard (no dog poo or heroin needles out there, by the way, to step on) or that your son wears shorts on warmish winter days. 

(At one point the worker asked my kids point blank if they owned any shoes since they don't wear them. I can tell you at that point in time my kids had TONS of shoes that had been given to us by family and friends with older children; but it was nice weather and WE DO NOT WEAR SHOES OFTEN! If that's a crime, handcuff me now.)

The state worker then pulls down your baby’s cloth diaper as you are nursing him so they can check him for some horrible skin thing you have never heard of called scabies. They ask your children crazy questions, even the youngest ones, and won’t let you explain that when your 3-year-old daughter says she cries when you leave her home “alone,” what she means is that she cries when you go grocery shopping and leave her with her dad and siblings. 

TIME OUT! (If a worker needs to speak to your children, they may do so in front of an attorney, thank you very much. Little children don't always understand the questions they are being asked and shame on this grown woman for interviewing my very young kids in front of me and not letting me explain their answers.) Also, if a worker is DRIVING UP TO YOUR HOUSE and handing your children a letter to give to you, something is VERY WRONG WITH THIS SYSTEM. Because we all know kids lose crap so why give something that important to a kid? If you really have a concern, you will come back when the parent is around or find another way to contact them. Maybe ask the "concerned" neighbor what the family's schedule is ... but then, maybe that was already give to you, given the fact that you dropped by when the parent was gone.

What a nightmare that happened to our family 5 years ago and not since, thankfully. We were never charged with a thing (neglect? We are with our kids constantly!), but the fear is there daily that the knock will come again. And that two-week waiting period while they I have no clue what they did during those two weeks to investigate us further investigated us further was HELL.

Now I know you do not have to answer the door. I will not do it again. If there are things to be discussed, they can be discussed NOT at a surprise meeting at my house and with a surprise TOUR OF MY ENTIRE HOME while we are in the middle of homeschooling. I don't even answer the door to someone I know who pops by in the middle of a homeschool day without letting me know first.

You do not have to answer the door unless there is a warrant, and in that case you are either doing something suspect or else someone is lying about you really well and we have to pray for them and believe in karma.

Haters gonna hate. Watch your back because even the best parents get called out. And if you are a homeschooler I might suggest joining Homeschool Legal Defense Association because it's like $10 a month and they would help you out if there was an issue so you really can tell a worker that you are going to CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY IF THERE IS AN ISSUE that is worthy of that.

Do not be intimidated like I was. I was brought up to think that those in authority are EVERYTHING and you obey them. That is not always the case. A CPS worker is not a cop and is not there to arrest you. They are there to gain information and inspect something and protect kids and most of them are great people but, like in any profession, you have those who are on POWER TRIPS or have seen all sorts of crazy crap and they assume the worst of you before ever setting foot in your home so if you can avoid that, do it.

P.S. If you have kids who are older (mine were not at the time but now they are), please tell them to NEVER answer the door. I tell mine to not even answer the door if they see Jesus Himself is here because Jesus can just come through the door anyway but you get where I'm going with this.

P.S. #2 If you receive a letter to call CPS, consider yourself lucky! You have time to compose yourself and can calmly call them and ask them, "Hey, what's up?" Okay, more like, "Yes, may I help you?" And then they say that they got a call about a concern because someone saw your kids doing X, and then you calmly (see a pattern here?) explain what was going on and hopefully it is dropped. If not, join HSLDA right now ($10ish a month pay as you go) and you can refer them to your lawyer once you get in contact with someone at HSLDA. 

My bet is they won't want to mess with that junk over something like a call that your teenager is home alone for a couple of hours at a time. Big whoop, anyway. The things people call on these days were NORMAL AS APPLE PIE in the 1950s, friends.

*This was really hard for me to write and took me almost 2 years to work up the courage to write about it. It gives me a slimy feeling when I think about it and makes my heart race to this day. A touch of PTSD, anyone, at the thought of having your kids taken away and given to God-knows-who?

Originally written July 31, 2013

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Homeschooling High School

“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” Goethe

People look at me like I just sprouted wings when I answer YES to their question of, "Are you going to homeschool throughout high school?"

I mean, we've been doing it for 3 months now during freshman year for my oldest and it's going well. He enjoys it and doesn't want to go to "normal" high school, as one of his Catholic school friends put it. Guess what? Homeschooling might be the NEW NORMAL for a lot of people! BAM! Take that!*

Yes, it's a leap of faith but that's what we took 10 years ago when we first started. Has everyone learned to read on schedule, is everyone caught up on math, do they all know their state capitals and important historical and scientific facts? Nope. And I'm not freaking out about it as much as I used to.

The worst that happens is my youngest two need help in religious education classes and at coop with their writing and reading. For now. They will pick it up and be off and running when they are ready. I can have this kind of confidence because I saw it with my 13-year-old, my 15-year-old and also my 11-year-old who is just NOW starting to read great (thanks, honestly, to Instagram messages and postings and texting her friends).

Oh, and the other bad thing that happens is when they play a game in gym and have to know the state capitals to advance, and my kid is like, "HUH? That's what GPS and Google and your computer and phone are for and when do I ever need that information?"

I feel like I have to address the social thing, even though it's super ridiculous. My high schooler is overly socialized. Like I spend a fortune in gas socialized. He gets a full day on Wednesdays ... I'm talking 10:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. ... at our local Catholic homeschool coop and then Theology of the Body for Teens. And Mondays he takes Latin there. Then there's Boy Scouts, and he's currently the Senior Patrol Leader in his troop. Oh, and there was that field trip to the World War I museum he recently went on and that field trip to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum (socializing AND learning at the same time ... WAHOO!). And I'm forgetting a ton of stuff. But don't worry, because even though Kansas doesn't seem to care what I do, I keep an Excel spreadsheet for my high schooler for the purposes of his transcript. I keep track of hours and he's doing great.

He has a lawn care job (when he's not soccer reffing or working at the gymnastics place or babysitting or altar serving funerals for income) and works with friends. He is always going to movies with friends and hanging out with friends and adults like extended family and there you go. Oh, and did I mention he's starting to DRIVE?

Here is a picture of him indoor rock climbing recently with a couple of girl friends:

Yes, it's weird for me to have a 15-year-old son who is starting to drive and be all independent and stuff.
All YOU have to do is Google "homeschooling high school" and check out all the bazillions of links, like:
  • Curriculum links for real books
  • Khan Academy for math and more (free!)
  • Time4Learning (what we use right now but it's glitchy so I might quit)
  • Virtual school (we've used it; free!)
  • Discovery K-12 (put your own thing together FREE)
  • Reading Eggs (we use it)
  • Math Seeds (we use it)
  • ABC Mouse.com
  • IXL Math
  • CTC Math
  • The math they use in public school that made my kids cry because it was timed and stressfu
  • Life of Fred (we love it)
  • The What Your (fill-in-the-blank-grade) Grader Needs to Know series through 6th grade
  • Starfall
  • Saxon, Seton, Singapore, Teaching Textbooks, Catholic Heritage Curricula
  • And about 75,000 other resources that are either free or middle-of-the-road  or costly.
And yes, question-asker, I have lots of friends who have homeschooled up until 9th grade then decided to send their kid to high school. I try to never say never these days, and I realize we could be sending a kid to high school someday. I have 5 kids and they all have different personalities and dreams and goals and wants and needs. I respect that. It's working for us right now and I am going to just be totally thrilled about that and enjoy every minute of it.

So, don't worry, Friends Who Send Your Kids to School and Family Who Sent Your Kids to School ... I got this.

*Disclaimer: I did not write this post to spark a debate. I fully realize homeschooling is not for everyone. I can't imagine my parents homeschooling me! I just wrote it to point people who ask to a post so they can read my views instead of getting the deer-in-headlights look from me because they have caught me in the middle of a busy day to ask me a very complicated question! Do I think my kids will be perfect if I homeschool them through high school? Of course not. They are subjected to some of the same temptations as any other teens, and they have hormones just like any other teens.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Earn #Swagbucks When You Join #Time4Learning

I love Swagbucks as a way to earn extra money. I take surveys, watch videos, do the daily poll, but mostly I get points when I buy things I was already going to buy. For instance, I do a lot of shopping on eBay. Let's say I spend $50 on something like books for homeschooling or pens or you name it. Then I get 50 Swagbucks back ... and sometimes they double it. I also get Swagbucks for surfing the internet, which we all do pretty much daily. Check it out! I also got Swagbucks when I signed up for Time4Learning last spring for my kids. Swagbucks are straightforwards ... it's basically a penny per buck. I usually take my Swagbucks out in PayPal cash and they are quick about it. If you are a blogger, you can also join their influencer program and sometimes get bonuses to post about Swagbucks, assuming you love it like I do :-)

Here's a promotion for Time4Learning they are running. I'll be posting more about Time4Learning on this site as we go through the program. Look for the tag on the side of the blog for Time4Learning. Thanks for reading!

 Earn Up To 2,702 SB

Earn Up To 2,702 SB!

Time4Learning is an online interactive curriculum for students PreK through 12th grade offering 1,500+ multimedia lessons, tools, teaching resources, and more. Combining the technology kids love with the education they need! Watch a 60 second video and earn 2 SB. Sign your child up and earn an extra 300 SB. Stay Subscribed for more than 2 weeks and earn an extra 600 SB and continue for more than 30 days and earn an extra 1,800 SB.*

*Disclaimer: I do receive a Swagbucks bonus when you sign up and I also get a free month of Time4Learning for my family when you join it, love it and stay with it more than 14 days :-)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

#KansasCity Crown Center Homeschool Week 2016

Get ready, because Crown Center Homeschool Week is coming and it's packed with fun stuff to do which is usually discounted. Keep in mind some of this stuff is already free, but you get a GIFT for going during Homeschool Week. No, we don't need more stuff in our house, but it's a good reason to get out and do something fun that's free and the gift might entice your kids to put down the Minecraft.

I do miss our Science City membership my dad and stepmom used to get for the kids, but I can't really justify $42 to go during homeschool week so we'll be avoiding that. We just went to SeaLife recently, but the Legoland pass is severely discounted ... still, for the price, all my five kids would want to do would be to ride the Harry Potter ride and watch the little movies over and over and I'm not sure it's worth it to our budget.

We went to the WWI museum recently enough that the kids are fine with not going. I am waiting for the WWII museum (not in the works, FYI). The Union Station exhibit is probably super cool but $11 per person means $66 to my family and we just can't swing it if we want to save to go to Florida next year.

We already have our Money Museum reservations because Friday is Sam's 7th birthday and he has been asking to go on a bank field trip so here ya go, kid. My kids also love Kaleidoscope no matter how old they get and we haven't done the Hallmark Visitors Center in a while.


THE COTERIE THEATRE
The Coterie is pleased to offer “One youth ticket free with the purchase of a full price adult
ticket” to any performance of The Nine Who Dared: Courage in Little Rock, a uniquely
interactive drama that asks audiences to become citizens of 1957 Little Rock, AR, and
participate in a "town hall" meeting about one of the defining moments of the Civil Rights
Movement. Live on stage September 20 – October 21, 2016. Perfect for ages 12 and older.
Limit of one free ticket per order. Cannot be combined with other offers or applied to
previous purchases, and is subject to ticket availability. Call 816-474-6552 and mention
District Homeschool Week to receive discount.

HALLMARK VISITORS CENTER
Travel through the Hallmark Visitors Center and be transported to a place where a storied
past and an exciting future come to life for one of the world’s premier creative companies.
The Hallmark Visitors Center is free. For more information contact us at 816-274-3613 or
visitorscenter@hallmark.com. Each homeschool family will receive a complimentary gift
(while supplies last).

KALEIDOSCOPE
Kaleidoscope nourishes the creative spirit. It is a place where children are invited to be
creative, have fun and feel good about their own special ideas. Kaleidoscope is a public
service of Hallmark Cards and is free. For information contact us at 816-274-8301 or
kaleidoscope@hallmark.com. Each homeschool family will receive a complimentary gift
(while supplies last).

LEGOLAND® DISCOVERY CENTER
All homeschool families will receive our special homeschool week rate of $7.00+tax per
student and $10.00+tax per adult. Monday through Friday only, our “What A Great
Experience” workshop will be offered with ticketed admission at the following times at no
extra charge:
1st Session 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm OR 2nd Session 1:45pm – 2:15 pm (weekdays only)
This offer is valid for walk-up admission only. LEGOLAND

MONEY MUSEUM AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF KANSAS CITY
We invite area homeschool students and families to join us for a special homeschool tour
series. All tours, regardless of age level, include a tour of our cash department where
students will look into the action of the cash operation and watch the millions of dollars that
are processed daily. Groups will be limited to the first 30 individuals that sign up in
advance. For reservations, visit kansascityfed.org/moneymuseum.
• Kindergarten – 2nd Grade Tours: Students learn about the value of coins and how
coins are made. Offered: October 3 - 5 at 10:30 AM.
• 3rd – 5th Grade Tours: Students learn the characteristics of money and use
museum iPads to take a close look at the different security features used on U.S.
currency to keep it safe from counterfeiting. Offered: October 3 and 4 at 2 PM
and October 6 at 10:30 AM.
• Family Tour: Families explore interactive exhibits that describe banking, how
people pay for things, and how monetary policy decisions impact a family's bottom
line. Offered: October 5 – 7 at 2 PM and October 7 at 10:30 AM.



NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL
The National World War I Museum and Memorial is pleased to announce special activities
for Homeschool students visiting Tuesday – Friday (October 4 – 7; Closed Monday)
• A complimentary guided tour from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. each day of Homeschool
Week
• A discounted rate of $3/ticket that includes a trip in the Liberty Memorial Tower for
each group member
• A free National World War I Museum and Memorial Family Guide
Tour spaces are limited and RSVP is required. Please contact the Museum Learning
Coordinator at 816-888-8113 to RSVP for a tour. Without exception, a responsible adult
must be present with students at all times at the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower and as
students wait at the base of the Tower.

SEA LIFE KANSAS CITY AQUARIUM
All homeschool families will receive our special Homeschool Week rate of $7.00+tax per
student and $10.00+tax per adult.
Monday through Friday, our “Slip & Slime” free workshops will be offered with ticketed
admission at the following times at no extra charge:
1st Session 10:30 am – 11:00am OR 2nd Session 11:15am—11:45am
This offer is valid for walk-up admission only. SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium’s
Homeschool Week offer is valid September 26 – October 7, 2016.
https://www2.visitsealife.com/kansas-city/tickets/homeschool-tickets/

SCIENCE CITY AT UNION STATION
Tuesday, October 4 – Sunday, October 9
*Please note all attractions will be closed on Monday, October 3.
Science City & Daily Activities: $7/person
Science Demonstrations
Maker Studio Walk Up Workshops
Science on a Sphere Shows
Featured Spark!Lab Activities
*Daily activities are included with Science City admission.
Planetarium Showings: $4/person
Tuesday-Friday:
10:30am – One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
1pm – Stargaze Kansas City
2pm – Back to the Moon for Good
3pm – Earth, Moon and Sun
4pm – Stargaze Kansas City
Saturdays:
10:30am – Earth, Moon and Sun
12pm – One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
1pm – Stargaze Kansas City
2pm – Back to the Moon for Good
3pm – Stargaze Kansas City
4pm – Dinosaurs at Dusk
Sundays:
12pm – One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
1pm – Stargaze Kansas City
2pm – Back to the Moon for Good
3pm – Stargaze Kansas City
4pm – Dinosaurs at Dusk
*All showings last 25-45 minutes.
*Add our Model Rail Experience, Building a Monument and Union Station Stories
exhibits to any attraction for FREE!
*Please check our website for more details!

UNION STATION – KANSAS CITY
Monday, October 3-Sunday, October 9
*Please note the BODY WORLDS Exhibition, will be open Monday, October 3-
Sunday, October 9
BODY WORLDS: $11/person
10am-5pm: Self-led tours (Monday-Thursday)
10am-7pm: Self-led tours (Friday & Saturday)
12pm-5pm: Self-led tours (Sunday)
*Exhibition does not include tour guide.
*Add our Model Rail Experience, Building a Monument and Union Station Stories
exhibits to any attraction for FREE!
*Please check our website for more details!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Homeschooling Mommybot Email Subscription Gets You a Free Cookbook!


Okay, so when you sign up for an email subscription (don't worry, I don't post constantly or anything like that ... who has time for that when they are homeschooling?!), I'll send you a FREE PDF of my book The Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook. Just use the form on the right-hand side of the blog to sign up via MailChimp and I'll get your book to you ASAP!

Thanks for checking out Homeschooling Mommybot!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

No Homework? This Chick is Gonna Get So Fired!

I found this little gem on Facebook and loved it! I'm not saying homework is evil or anything, but I've always wondered why we can't get our work done in the 7 hours we are at school, even considering the wasted time lining up, trying to get everyone quiet, answering questions and explaining things over and over again for those who did not understand.

At our co-op, I understand giving homework for the high school kids because if you are only physically in class 1 hour a week then you need to supplement that outside of class to get a full credit on a high school transcript. But for elementary school kids? Not necessary! Middle school should have some, I suppose, just to gear them up for high school. And I understand some homework in high school to get kids ready for college.

Some families will love this new homework policy but others will just let their kids sit on video games all night instead. Some will actually spend more time with their kids but some will just check out like always.

I admire school teachers very much.  They just want to light up the lives of kids and that has to be difficult when they are sandwiched between administrators who are often out of touch and parents who are also often out of touch. It is my hope and prayer that this homework policy for this specific class makes a difference in the lives of the kids and the parents :-)


Friday, August 19, 2016

Preparing Your Homeschooling Area for a Fresh Year ... Or Just Leaving It Messy!



I've seen people posting pictures of their super clean desks for their home school year so I wanted to share mine. It's a hot mess just like my personality. That thing wrapped in a towel is a bag of frozen spinach to put on my face for a bad tooth. Oh look, there's the 30-page Excel spreadsheet printout for the seventh edition update of my book that I have to get out someday so we can make some extra money to buy more homeschool stuff. 

But first I have about four days to get out a couple of syllabi. For co-op. 

Oh yeah then there's homeschool planning for five kids for the next year. 

Can you tell I'm clinging to summer? And procrastinating?

Hey, at least I can find everything! Besides, this is more my lifestyle and work desk (the kitchen table). We homeschool mostly at the dining room table and you are not getting a photo of that anytime soon!

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