Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Welcome Back to Bat Country

Well, hello! Fancy meeting you here. Come here often? I’m so sorry for my extended absence. As most moms can attest, time has gotten away from me but let’s see if I can catch you up. I’ve switched jobs, homes, schools, philosophies and hair styles. Lorelei is 5 going on 15 and we’ve made some serious sacrifices and decisions in the past several months. Now that we’ve settled into our routine a bit more, it’s time to get back in the saddle. With homeschooling, blogging and overall awesomeness. So with that being said, you can look forward to the following and much more
  • Private School Problems: Parts 2 and 3
  • Moving the Career Forward
  • Summer Education Options
  • The Sweet Life of Single Motherhood
  • Public School Involvement
So please, please, please forgive me and I hope I can make it up to you with stimulating reading material or at least something for you to openly mock.

Welcome back to Bat Country

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Private School Problems (part 1 of a 3 parter)

Hello my fellow crazies. My sympathetic moms and dads who barely remember the blur that was January.  Where have I been? Don't ask me, in my mind it's still November. But the calendar tells me different and my bank account shows the scars of a holiday season and fifth birthday party and thus I must admit that time is indeed passing. And what, pray tell, have we been up to?

Lorelei is adjusting quite well to the school environment. She's making friends and going to birthday parties and every few months or so I get to attend a PTA meeting where I am shamelessly guilted into giving even more money to the school for various improvements and fundraisers. They take off every conceivable holiday which means I am constantly looking for childcare options. Lorelei comes home reciting dogma that she cannot explain and I'm still having to explain to people the arbitrary laws that prohibit my well-read daughter from skipping this Letter-of-the-Week routine and skipping to Kindergarten or even 1st grade. Long story short- this is pretty much what I expected. However it's not all negative. In fact, let's take a look at the balance:

You can see the frustration. I'm sticking with the decision that Christ the King was the best choice given the circumstances, but I'm not too sure how sustainable it is for us in the long term. We have a few more months before summer vacation hits and that is putting the decisions into an even harsher perspective given that I've blown my whole childcare budget and still have two unaccounted for months to...well...account for!

The questions are endless and the issues mounting and time is running out.

Non Illegitimi Carborundum,
Bat Country

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Fallacy of School Choice Programs

I wish to exercise my freedom of choice in how my daughter is educated. I ask the government to kindly allow me to determine the best use of my earned income by my own judgment, particularly where it concerns those under my care. The current systems in place in the State of Florida are unacceptable to meet these ends. In order to qualify for Tax Credit Scholarships (corporations and individuals may make a state tax credited contribution that the State of Florida then awards according to eligibility standards), our family must not exceed certain income criteria. Information on Vouchers is so difficult to find, I am beginning to believe they are an urban myth.

It is my desire that this contradiction that forces a parent to act against his or her own judgment be resolved. The State of Florida and all government bodies must remove themselves from the role of parent so that I may raise my daughter in the manner that I see fit; a responsibility that, as her mother and sole guardian, falls to me and me alone.

It is my understanding that I do not qualify for (i.e. do not deserve) the opportunity to express and act upon my own judgment for my own purposes. I must therefore compromise one set of values to uphold another. Particularly, I must not work to the best of my ability thereby garnering a paycheck that would disqualify me. I can either patronize the institutions of my choice (a private school with a proven record of excellence) through value-generating effort (a paycheck that reflects my work and worth) while also paying for system that I do not use or approve of (public schools throughout the community); or take advantage of a social program (School Choice Scholarships) that, by the very act of qualifying (i.e. earning below income standards for my household size), I do not financially support (i.e. decreased income results in decreased contribution through taxes and therefore a decreased contribution to the scholarship fund). Only children currently attending heinously below average schools qualify for an Opportunity Scholarship. This requires a student to experience poor education first-hand before being offered the opportunity to improve his or her situation. There is no mention of remediation from the qualifying experience of attending a "D" or "F" rated school. Of course, there is always the option of allowing my daughter to attend the public school against my wishes and judgment however as I must act according to my own sets of values, this is an unacceptable option. 

It is with this contradiction that I must come to terms that in order to remain a law-abiding citizen (i.e. dutifully pay my taxes on the income that I generate) or forgo my own judgment and accept the government rationed education that is the public school system. 

Toodles from Bat Country

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I never give up; I just change my mind

Adapting the Goal
The past few months have been a whirlwind of change. Changing jobs, changing homes, changing Lorelei’s school- wait did she just say? Yes, I did. School. But, wasn’t the whole point to keep Lorelei out of the masochistic institution that grinds out semi-literate neophytes and engage in a bohemian, offbeat lifestyle that will breed an amazing, objectivist freethinker? Why, yes, so kind of you to remember! So what’s the deal?

Work Happened
The year began with me happily situated in a Production Coordinator position at a national TV network. While the work was good and the people were fabulous, I outgrew the job and searched the big, wide world over for a new opportunity. I had interviews in New York, Philadelphia and Pinellas Park (now there’s a spread) and finally settled in as a Project Manager for a marketing solutions company working with a humongous financial institution. Now, when I say, “settled”, I mean “slumped”. Full on, weight-gaining misery that sucked my soul dry on a daily basis. After 88 whole days I found myself a brand=spanking-new job as Program Manager at a boutique marketing agency based in Ybor City. Please note the double promotion in the span of 4 months; pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Goodbye corporate soul-suckers, hello 90-minute commute and awesome work environment.

With the additional miles and hours required in my new gig and my Tarpon Springs home base, I could no longer keep Lorelei at her amazing babysitter’s. Two months of hand wringing and option-trying I:
  • Interviewed nine nannies
  • Tried to negotiate flexible work hours
  • Worked through lunch
  • Rushed through traffic
  • Emailed from the car
  • Pieced together a four-person child care team
  • Desperately tried to homeschool in the hour between getting home, dinner time, bath time, bed time and back on the road again before the sun had risen
  • Induced separation anxiety in Lorelei so she would no longer sleep in her own bed and develop tummy trouble
  • Stopped even trying to keep a clean house or cook homemade meals

If you think life was unbearable, you’re right. Something had to give. The job? The sitter? The home? My sanity?

But I Hate Schools!
I visited several schools close to my work. My generous mother visited every Montessori school in the Tampa Bay Area. And while so many of them had positive points, there was always some detraction that I couldn’t overcome. The hours, the reputation, the staff. Something was always just a little off. Let’s not even talk about trying to fund this little venture. On a whim I put Lorelei on the waiting list at Christ the King School. Alumni of this school include, my sister, my aunt, my cousins, my mother and myself. Talk about a recommendation! Within days of my throwing in the towel the secretary, the same secretary that used to take my temperature when I was in Kindergarten called to say CKS had an opening. Finally! A school I can trust! For crying out loud, my 1st, 4th, 6th and 8th grade teachers were still there. People who knew me and watched my sister and I grow up were still there. They remembered us; the school hadn’t changed. Best of all, they are 15 minutes from work!

How is it different than that nightmare scenario I was trying to avoid?
I can be a part of Lorelei’s day
  • Guest Reader
  • Volunteer
  • Constant communication with the teaching staff
  • Family events nearly every other weekend
  • The opportunity to stop in whenever I want

Private Schools make their own rules
  • Input in curriculum
  • Standards set by the parents
  • A firm expectation that parents stay involved

Providing a foundation
  • I am not religious but I’m glad Lorelei is getting that foundation that I am familiar with. It gives us a jumping off point to tackle questions of faith and theology
  • I encourage individuality at every turn but I’m not very good about encouraging cooperation with the outside world. CKS encourages more cooperative interactions and while the groupthink is a little much for me, again, a balance.

So what? You’re just giving up?
Absolutely not! Bat Country is in full swing. We learn French in the car through audiobooks (j’taime bebe), read novels instead of slumping in front of the TV, work through our homeschool books and complete CKS homework with our own personal twist. We’re moving to Tampa to be closer to work and school and cutting expenses to move our learning experience from the living room to great big world. We’re minimizing the superfluous and focusing on the substantial. You thought we were going to stay on the same straight and narrow? Have you met us?

Remember kids…we can’t stop here, this is Bat Country.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Objectivist Homeschooling

I must share this amazing website

It contains reading lists centered around an objectivist philosophy for all ages. And not simply philosophy books; history and literature and math and science and technology.

I've been searching high and low for like-minded materials. Finally!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ayn Rand for Preschoolers

At the end of the day, I want to know that I've left it all out on the field. I need to use every ounce of my ability or else I've failed. If I can go to sleep with my muscles sore and my mind exhausted, I will be happy.

Moving Up and Out
With head held high, I left my job at HSN for better opportunities. In truth, I'm at the wonderful 'striving' stage in my career when I'm always looking for something that will get me closer to the ultimate goal. What, may you ask is that? Well read the last few months of post and you'll have a clue. Independence. Homeschooling, Minimalism, Vegabonding; they all share a common theme, loose those bonds and claim your life. So here I sit, one month into my new job and one step closer to the big "I". Of course, if you sit around waiting for your life to start, you'll find yourself waiting indefinitely.

Independence doesn't begin when all physical encumbrances are gone, rather when you free your mind and will. With that in mind, we here in Bat Country do so declare our Independence from:
  • Slavery: Financial debt is something we walk into and forget that there is ever a way out. 
  • Tyranny: We are all individuals and have the responsibility to think and act as such.
  • Pressure to conform: Free speech is a right, so is the ability not to listen.
  • Stress: I know my best, and will give it freely as I see fit.
Who is John Galt?
I am. I had heard of Atlas Shrugged since high school, but only in the context of an essay contest for a scholarship. Out of the thousands of books declared "classics" it just never made my reading list. Until a few months ago, I only knew The Fountainhead  as an old Gary Cooper movie. Then, I was encouraged to see the new Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 the day it came out. With my ice cream cone and free afternoon, I sat in a movie theater, the youngest by 20+ years out of the whole audience. What I saw was something I had been struggling with for years. Self-reliance and true accountability were things spoken of but never seem to jive with what was being done. The movie ends with Wyatt's Torch for those of you who know the story and a voice-over ending in "I'm on strike". The audience erupted in applause and I with it.

I'm on strike
After the movie, I had to read the book. Read it? I devoured it! And then another and another until I was beginning my own home-schooling on political philosophy. During that time, Lorelei began peaking over my shoulder and reading aloud. To hear the words, "I am the man who loves his life" come from a four-year old, it is difficult not to be moved. This is not merely a philosophy, this is our life. And as Rand said, "I swear by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine."

Toodles from Bat Country

Friday, May 13, 2011

Minimalism: Step One

Inspired by blogs such as zen habits, Exile Lifestyle, The Minimalists, Marc and Angel Hack Life, and of course the desire to look at an immaculate house, I've decided to see how much I can "minimize" and truly embrace the minimal lifestyle. I mean, let's face it, if Lorelei and I are ever to become the truly counter-culture world travelers, we're not going to be able to drag along the large amount of crap- I mean belongings currently filling our 1,400 sq. ft. apartment. I knew it would be challenging, but I've been working on this list (some people have gotten their possessions down to less than 100 things) for a few days now and I've reached 400 and that's only off of the top of my head. Forget the things in drawers, in boxes and shelves I'm too short to see without a boost. I wasn't hoping to get down to 100 or even 200 but seriously, I cannot complain about money...ever! I keep a relatively clean apartment (some have called it sterile, but the OCD in me knows this to be a fallacy). Lorelei and I tidy up when needed and the dog knows better than to make more work for me so all in all, I've got it under control. So how did I end up with so much stuff?
Three years ago I became a divorcee. Neither my happiest time nor my most financially secure. With Grim determination, I found a job and a furnished apartment and packed up a sedan-worth of stuff to start my new life with my then one year old bundle of giggles. Towards the end of the lease and as Florida's snow bird season was kicking into high gear, I needed to find a new place and fast and the furnished places sky-rocketed in rent. I was in no position to turn up my nose at charity:
·         Church friends: kitchen setup and dining room table
·         Work colleagues: couch
·         Friends: queen size bed (shared with my daughter for the first several months)
·         Family: various tables, my TV from my first apartment out of high school that somehow made it back to my mother’s and a toddler bed from my sister
·         Myself: clothes and a few photos and albums
Making Something Out of Very Little
That was it: my little palace for me and the princess. Back then I didn’t call it minimalism; I called it poverty. But slowly I worked and saved and spent. Tax refunds, child support, over time; it all went to making our apartment a home. TJ Maxx, NY & Co., Target; I could afford to get another TV with my HSN discount. Lorelei got books and toys and I got sheets that weren’t hand-me-downs (I just tried not to think about it really). Present day – quite a comfortable little setup if I do say so myself. I still have some of the donations, some of which I donated myself to other people in need. My sister came through with a bigger bed for Lorelei when she outgrew the toddler bed and now we only sleep together when she wants to cuddle. I’ve managed to acquire more then I’ve dumped. And this bothers me.
I never want Lorelei to go without, but all of this stuff- we don’t need it. What we need is the cash that went into acquiring it. What we need is the peace of mind of knowing where everything is and that we are not living in a wasteful manner but a sustainable (not quite hemp crazy but) healthy way. Seriously! What do you say to a little girl who looks around a store and says, “Mommy, let’s get more stuff!” From the mouths of babes, right?
Step One: No More Stuff!
I love to shop. Especially for “useful” stuff like school supplies, kitchen gadgets and storage boxes. Anything promising organization – I want 10! But no more. Family and friends out there, “No more stuff please!” Unless it is going to replace something I already have that doesn’t work anymore, take that money and donate it in my name. Lorelei? Well, she’s a kid; and a darn cute one if I must say so I won’t deprive ya’ll of getting her fun stuff, just have mercy on the one who has to pick up after her.
Step Two: Purge, Baby, Purge!
I will not bore you nor embarrass myself by publishing my ever-growing list of stuff. I will however let you know of things I have deemed superfluous. Like sundresses I would never leave the house in or shoes with the heel worn off. Or five down comforters (not making that one up). Never fear, it will all go to a good place. No trash dumps. And the goal is not to replace it with more stuff. I may never get to 100 things or even 200 but let’s start investing and stop spending.
A few places to unload your stuff for a good cause
  • Freecycle - a network of local groups that post anything and everything from coupons to couches; all you have to do is call the poster (a normal yocal just like yourself) and come pick it up. The only requirement: it has to be free
  • National Furniture Bank - unwanted furniture for those in need
  • Salvation Army - heard of 'em?
  • Pick Up Please - they'll come to your house and take your unwanted clothes
  • any local church or charity - you don't want me to do all of the work for you, do you? Get Googling!
Or sell it
Happy Hunting from Bat Country