You Weren’t Using That Were You?

We are a four computer family.  I know.  Shameful.  Wasteful.  Over the top.  But the truth is we really do use four computers.  At least most of the time.  The boys each cyberschool, so they need to haveH-Ts room 003 individual access to a computer during school days.  I work at home from my laptop, so it is basically just an extra appendage sticking out from my fingers at all times. And even R-T likes to know that the computer is there when he needs it.  His blog, for instance, has really taken off, and he has also discovered the addictive properties of Facebook. 

This computer consumerist mentality in Topsy-Techieland, however, creates its own set of challenges.  We tend to find that the grass is greener over on the other family member’s computer.

H-T’s computer is the oldest, and the graphics card just wasn’t designed to handle the latest games.  So when Dad isn’t home, he lays claim to the “man of the family’s” title and benefits.  In other words, finders keepers.

Now H-T’s computer happens to have all the finance software loaded on it.  So when H-T latches on to dad’s computer, I take the golden opportunity to hijack his desktop long enough to balance the checkbooks and find out how much deeper in debt we are than we were last week. 

Then Uber has a game that only seems to work on his computer, so when H-T wants a turn with that, Uber has to go looking for another device.  God help him if I’m working on the finances, dad is blogging, and my laptop is out of power.  At that point, he usually decides that his little brother doesn’t really deserve to play that game after all.  He will bring up some slight that H-T has never completely atoned for, and kicks him out of his chair and onto his computer-less butt. 

Throw in a little accordian music and you’ve got a geeky version of musical chairs. 

Doesn’t it make you wish you could come play? You’re welcome to visit anytime…just BYOC, of course.

Remember, just two more days to comment and get a chance to win that HP Printer.  If you’ve ever had anything to say in your life, NOW is the time to say it!!!!

Thankful for Thanksgiving Drama

Thanksgiving always spawns family drama, right?  I hear horror stories from friends about parents who get into knock-down drag-outs, uncles who get wasted, young cousins who trash the house as if they were sorority boys.  Someone is always supposed to end up crying at the end of the evening…I think it’s a turkey day rite of passage in many families.

Not usually in ours, though.  We are probably the world’s most boring T-day revelers.  If someone drops cranberry sauce on their new sweater and curses aloud at the table, that is serious action in our holiday annals.

And it looked like this Thanksgiving would be no different.  I spent most of the day prepping and cooking Tom-Turkey and enjoying the feel of the dough as I kneaded the homemade yeast rolls.  We headed over to my moms and enjoyed a relaxing evening with plenty of stories and laughter to go along with the stuffing.  All was as wonderfully dull and drama-free as usual.

So imagine my surprise when we got home and Uber walked into the kitchen and broke down into tears.  The remainder of the bird just happened to be sitting out on the oven for me to pick off any last turkey leftovers, and the sight of the withering carcass had quite an interesting effect on my sensitive 14-yr-old.  Suddenly, he could visualize Tom in all his gobbledly glory, strutting around the farm, and bothering no one in particular, when WHAMMO – – turkey fricassee.

This was not a short-lived moment of empathy on his part.  Uber was visibly upset for quite some time afterward, and we had a long drawn out conversation where he explained his need to become a true vegetarian.  He had been thinking about it for some time now, it seems, and the turkey carrion on the counter had just pushed him over the edge.

I guess this didn’t come as much of a shock. Uber had a similar experience at the age of seven, where the sight of meat would make him physically ill, and he went veg for a little over a year.  This is a kid who really feels things strongly.  He has a passion for justice, the sanctity of life, environmentalism, reducing consumerism and waste, and the list goes on.  This is a young man who wants to change the world…one turkey at a time.

So, it was a bit of Thanksgiving drama I hadn’t bargained for – – a son who knows himself enough to stand up for what he believes.  Who feels so strongly about something that he is willing to buck the familiar and head into uncharted territory.  Who is passionate about his convictions.

Now if that isn’t something to be thankful for, then I don’t know what is.


Who ARE You? And Where Did You COME From?

I’ve gotten really into Facebook lately.  It has been a hoot.  I have actually touched base with people I haven’t talked to since MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! 

But the funniest part of a social network like Facebook is that not only am I catching up with old friends and distant family, but I’m also having to look in the mirror a lot closer lately.  I mean with Facebook, you kind of have to define yourself in some way…tell other people who you are.

What has been surprising, though, is the double-takes I’ve been getting from people I haven’t seen in a long time.  You like what??!!  Your political views are which??!!  You actually say that??!!

Who ARE you??!! And where did you COME from??!!

Well, you see, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, they get really close and….

Oh.  Sorry.  You mean who am I really.

Ok.  Well, obviously, I’m not who I was twenty years ago.  I hope NO ONE is!  Yes, the changes have been gradual, and then major, and then gradual again. 

Life changes you.  I used to be a very black and white thinker.  My view of the Bible was literal.  My view of politics was “it’s my way or the highway.” My view of people was that they were either inherently good or inherently evil.  My view of blogging was that only politicos, Drudgites, or voyeurs did it.

So maybe I have changed a lot, come to think of it.  Having a husband who works with the marginalized and the forgotten changes you.  Having sons with neurological issues changes you.  Making friends who challenge your belief systems changes you.  Seeing the ridiculous antics of politicians on both the far right and the far left changes you.  And God knows that blogging changes you.blackwhitegrey

So I’m different than I was 20 years ago.  A lot less black and   white, and a LOT more grey. But I’m oh so happy to be grey.  So very, very happy. And that’s what matters, right?

How about you?….would people from 20 years ago still think you are the same person if they saw your Facebook?

Remember, every comment this month gets you another chance to win that HP Printer just in time for Christmas!!

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Cool Resource For Elementary Science Unit Study

science songs has created a unique way to introduce some specific science concepts to elementary age students.  It has begun to create interdisciplinary units for their science music videos.

If you have visited the site recently, you may have noticed that they have introduced animated musical videos about four science subjects: hurricanes, the sun, stars, and thunder.  These science songs use video, music, and text to capture the attention of kids with all different learning styles.

But has gone a step further with two of the videos, the Hurricane Song and the Sun Song.  They have created vocabulary lists, spelling tests, and several interactive games that complement the videos and let kids practice and play with what they have learned.

Every parent and teacher knows that engaging with a subject is the most effective way to learn it and retain it.  I think these science units will do just that for kids.

And watch the site closely over the next few months, because I’m pretty sure that they will be adding supplemental resources for the other two videos, as well as adding more science videos to the list. 

If you have an elementary school child, head on over and make use of this terrific science tool today!

Sticking To My Guns (hee)


I’m one of those moms. 

You know the type.  Mainstream mamas who hang on to their hippie friends’ coattails and refuse to let their children have violent toys or video games.  hooters

I think I stated once that I would rather let my kids go to daycare at Hooters  than to own a play gun. No, seriously.  People actually say things like that – –  even when they aren’t under the influence of any hallucinogenic substances. But I have a true natural aversion to real-life violence.  I’m keenly aware of the preciousness of life.  And even though I understand that fantasy violence is just that – – fantasy – – I believe that it can desensitize us to the real thing over time.

So of course, it naturally follows that I would spawn a child who happens to be obsessed with all things violent and horrific.  My youngest son would give his left elbow to be allowed to play the video games that his compadres have open access to – –   God of War, Call of Duty, Resident Evil   – – they are all off limits in Topsy-Techieland.

Now I know all about preteen and teen rebellion.  My mom and dad were flower child wannabes, so I tried out my wings as a very conservative Republican for a while.  Even attended a private ultra-conservative Christian college, which really threw a cork in their plans for me.

So as a parent, I well know that putting stuff “off limits” only increases its appeal.  Thus…I have REALLY tried to be more low key on my anti-violence warpath (hee).  The other day, H-T wanted to buy a toy shotgun with his own money.  For the first time in my parenting career, I turned my head and let it happen.  He begged for a violent video game for Christmas, telling us to do all the research we wanted on it and promising to write a homeschool report about it if he got it.  I ordered the game.  He has been spending at least one afternoon each week watching old black and white horror movies on the web.  I haven’t blocked the sites.

I think I am being incredibly generous since everything in my parenting sixth sense is screaming out against these gestures of blooming independence.  But sometimes I feel like I am just giving in and buckling against my own value system. 

So for those of you who have dealt with these issues – – what conclusions have you come to?   Is it more important to stick to your guns (hee) and enforce your own values, or to allow your kids to express their personal independence and test out their own value systems? 

I would truly love to hear some mama (and daddy) wisdom and get some advice from an outside perspective…shoot away (hee).

Remember that every comment this month gets you an entry into the Big Fat November giveaway for that HP Printer!!  

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But gravy goes good with birthday cake…

11-16 001

This is my birthday cake.  I tried to leave one piece of it so you could see it, but lunch came and the piece was sitting there, looking so darn pitiful and lonely.  So H-T and I split it.  We’re empathetic like that. And now, this is all that’s left to remind me of today’s significance. 

My birthday will come and go as quickly as this here cake did.  Is that bad?

Not when you’ve had as many of them as I’ve had now. 

Birthdays at this point are just a day for me to look back over the last year and consider all my blessings.  In fact Thanksgiving and my birthday are basically the same holiday, as far as I’m concerned.  If I tried to count all my blessings, I’d run out of numbers.

I’m so blessed to have…

HPIM1808 the most loving, supportive, kind, wet-your-pants funny husband in the whole wide world

HPIM1560e the two most wonderful, intelligent, creative, kind-hearted boys in the whole wide world

Everything else is just….


That All May Read…

First of all, an update:  The fleas have been banished from Topsy-Techieland, and all has returned to “normal.”  No, I still didn’t get to see ‘Quantum of Solace’, but we went shopping and I’m pretty sure hubby and the boys covertly got me some birthday stuff, so all is good.

Reading and writing is my life.  No, seriously.  I live in a world of words.  My entertainment, my job, and my thoughts are all based on words.  So words are a VERY big deal to me.

When I find out that someone is functionally illiterate it brings tears to my eyes.  I just feel like they are missing out on this whole segment of life.  Granted, many people throughout the ages made it through life just fine without reading a single word.  But in today’s society, we are connected by the written word.  The internet is still primarily a written medium.  There is a lot more visual and audial content on there than there used to be, but we still spend over 95% of our time on the web getting our info from written sources.

In a culture where we would rather text than talk, the written word doesn’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon. 

Library for the Blind adn Handicapped NJSo…for this reason, I am a HUGE fan of the National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. As we head into Thanksgiving, I think this is one organization that I feel especially thankful for.  If you don’t know much about the NLBPH, here is a quick rundown of the services they provide:

  • Full length books in both braille, large print, and recorded format free to members
  • Magazines (more than 70!)  in both braille, large print, and recorded format free to members
  • Playback equipment for all recorded material free to members
  • Braille books, magazines, and materials available on the web via web-braille
  • Assistive devices such as remote controls, breath switches, extension levers, and amplifiers available to those with special needs or requirements
  • Eligibility open to all who cannot use regular printed materials because of visual or physical impairment

Thanks to the NLBPH and your tax dollars, my son with dyslexia can take part in life to the fullest.  He can read anything and everything that he wants.  He is currently devouring Eragon, a book that would normally have sat on our bookshelf unopened because it was too “difficult” for him. 

Not now.  Now the world of words is completely free and available to him.  I couldn’t be more thankful. 

If you would like to find out more about the National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, go to their website. Or even better, volunteer with your state branch of the National Library.  Why?  So that ALL may read…

Remember – – every comment on a Topsy-Techie blog post this month earns you one entry into my November giveaway.  So comment away!

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Da’ Bomb

I didn’t post yesterday cause I was in a state of shock.  SHOCK, I tell you.

Why? Cause it would seem that our little teeny tiny house is not just snug – – but snug as a BUG on a rug.  WE HAVE FLEAS!

Technically, it is the dogs who have fleas, but we are pretty sure they have shared with the rest of the house, cause I discovered a few flea bites on my ankles. 

This in itself is bad.  But what makes it worse is that H-T is a serious bug-a-phobe.  Once we made the discovery, he started looking up local hotel rooms in the phone book. 

Our dogs have had to be outside on the back porch for two days now – – two days which happen to be the coldest two days of the year so far.  They are so bummed. They have started looking up local hotel rooms in the phone book.

So the answer?  A flea bomb.  I can’t believe I dissed those news guys for warning us to build bigger wider bomb shelters!  They were right.  And now I wish I had one (not to go in, of course, but to send H-T and the dogs to so I don’t hafta hear their whining anymore).

Today’s sole purpose seems to be readying the house for the coming Armageddon.  Taping up cabinets with food.  Moving furniture onto non-carpeted surfaces…which of course makes me come to terms with how dang gross it is under the furniture, so of course I have to CLEAN.  As if bombing the house weren’t bad enough, now I have to CLEAN it too??!!  Will the injustice never end??!!

And the final straw is that of course we have to be out of the house for at least  2-3 hours this afternoon while the bomb goes off.  I had SO better get to see Quantum of Solace today for all my trouble.  The pic on the right would happen to be the blond Bond – – star of said movie..(a BIG thanks to my buddy over at Pack of Hungry Snails for this pic!!)

It’s In Print…So It Must Be True

Earlier this month, I asked the question “What is a secular homeschooler?”  I wanted to see if I fit in with that classification of homeschoolers based on our schooling style around here in Topsy-Techieland. I got some of the best responses from you guys.  In fact, I’m still getting comments on that post.  Thanks for all your incredible input!!

Ironically, this past week, I got a copy of the quarterly homeschool magazine “Secular Homeschooling” in my mailbox, along with a check (always good).11-16

I had submitted an article to the magazine a couple of months ago, and  the editor chose to use it in the fall issue.   So there I was – – my name and my article – – right smack dab in the middle of Secular Homeschooling magazine.

How do you argue with what’s right in front of your face? 

Doesn’t that settle it?  Yep.  I must be one of the cool kids now.  Lord knows I’ve been waiting long enough to fit in somewhere!!

Oh.  I just remembered that I’m still locked out of the Secular Homeschooling social network. Crap.

Well, two steps forward, one step back. 

If you don’t already subscribe to Secular Homeschooling magazine, now would be a great time.  I mean, you wouldn’t want to miss out on my super duper article about homeschooling math according to your child’s learning style, now would you??

Have a great Sunday, you guys.  This coming week is my birthday week…so who wants to party with me???  BYOB, of course.  See you there…

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!!

I can’t see you, but I know you are there.  Statcounter tells me so.  Yes you…from Pennsylvania.  And you there…yes YOU, from Calgary.  And you, from Virginia, there is simply no point in lurking back in the shadows, because I still know where you are.groundhog

I’ve been trying to figure out why you are so shy. Maybe you only appear on Groundhog Day?

Well, whatever the reason, it is time to de-lurk and start commenting.


Well first of all because there is a WAY cool, brand new printer at stake.

But secondly, because if you comment, then I can comment back.  And if you leave me your blog url on your comment, I will definitely come over and comment there too. 

And if I really LIKE your blog when I visit (and why shouldn’t I?), then I can list it on my blogroll and OTHER people can visit it too. 

See? Commenting is a GOOD thing.  It creates community.  It makes you feel good.  It will bring about world peace…..well, it could.

So come on, ye lurkers.  Comment already!  It’s Saturday…what better thing could you possibly have to do today???

p.s.  I apologize YET AGAIN for not getting my Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints up, but I have a GOOD excuse, I swear.  Tell you all about it next week…