Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not a Creature was Stirring except a cat who looked like a mouse plus a review: Dumbing Us Down

I try to get to bed by 1o:oo every night. It is not always doable, but its a goal. Last night I was bed well before my goal. Tucked in and sound asleep with all the children; they have STAAR tests this week and have been told by their teachers how important a good nights sleep is...even if you are in K through 2nd and don't have testing yet. It is your responsibility to get a good nights sleep so you will be on your best behavior and quiet several halls away where your older siblings are eating mints and taking tests (evidently mints are a time honored tradition, much like mums, here in the south...but I digress). At approximately 11:27 (yes, I looked) I was awoken by a small "mew" sound. I shot a look at my fat cat sprawled on the bottom of my bed. I heard it again, and her mouth never moved. In fact, she looked at me like this...
Clearly, it was not Ashe. The two of us went off in search of the now much louder mewing...did the birds learn to meow? Didn't I tell y'all that the Murphy Farm grew by two birds last Easter, thank you very much Easter Bunny! I am trying to teach them to talk though my two girls tell me often that Parakeets have lost their ability to speak. That said, every time I walk in their room, I say in a high squeaky voice, "Nico, Kiki" convinced that they will repeat me one day and finish off my heart. Now Ashe began to hiss at an alarming frequency and began to hold back in the quest, ignoring the delicious looking birds room, so I knew it wasn't them. No, it go louder the closer to the lit up kitchen I got. There, Matthew had the tiniest grey cat with the largest voice captive in a cage. "I rescued it mom from the parking lot of the health club...can I keep it?"  I looked at Ashe, and though all she would do was hiss, I just kept thinking, "remember the last time you tried to bathe a cat and how that turned out...and this kitten stinks." But I just said put it in the garage with some food and make it stop making so much noise, and back to bed I went thinking what is it about my PA kids that has made their inner farmer come clawing to the surface. We can't get enough animals. Mariah took one look at the half dead kitten in the morning and claimed if her crazy dog is going to be willing to share. But like that, it was settled.

Later, I couldn't help but think is it Nature vs. Nurture. I have been reading a book by John Taylor Gatto  called, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. He isn't very encouraging saying, "School, as it was built, is an essential support system for a model of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows as it ascends to a terminal of control." I had to use his words,because he is genius. Those words and his enthusiasm for education are what made this book such a long enduring success. He claims that he left a very lucrative career as a copywriter, and if you read the book, you will see that he must have been very successful. He can make you believe in a reading (a quick read, it wasn't easy to stop once in!! ) that all public schools should just be scrapped. They are too big and too expensive to just be reformed. In fact, Mr. Gatto claims that the Public School system is 100% successful in its true goals which have nothing to do with education, but instead with turning us into a population of materialistic, unattached, and distracted individuals that have no true support systems or values. That is a very lofty if misguided goal. I don't believe that it is the true agenda of the Public School System, however, there is much that rings true in his assertions. Societal problems that Mr. Gatto attributes to the school system include: provisional self-esteem or basing self-worth and value on something external; dependency on others to tell them what to do or fear of getting anything done without expert instruction; that no one can be trusted and you must watch everyone all the time; the demise of family and community in favor of shallow networks; drugs; suicide; and divorce. He said that the lessons of public schooling, "confusion, class position, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem, and surveillance. All of these lessons are prime training for permanent underclasses, people deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius." He believes that school encourages youth, and consequently, the population, to sever community ties in favor of networks to gain better jobs and ways of life, but which are not rich sources of community--in fact are not community at all. He talks about successful communities who grow by like minded people moving closer to each other and helping each other....caring about each other. Not in a network because they fall into the same catch man area. Pretty heavy stuff for a mom who was just wondering why her PA kids keep bringing home animals and my city kids  are content to  watch TV...but what do I know.

Anyway, I can't help but think that Mr. Gatto has made an impressive start on the debate of compulsory schooling. Of course, this book was written initially in 1992 and I was reading the 1oth anniversary issue...the debates well underway. The book gives a wonderful explanation for many of the ills of our society that we currently are plagued with. Kids are very could they not be if every time they begin to get interested in something a bell rings and they need to put it away and move to something else. Genius, but no real supporting research. I guess I need that because I am a product of compulsory education and would like an expert opinion or two. I am tempted to agree with him because he confirms my position that children should spend more time at home with each other than with teachers. I believe there is sufficient evidence to that, even the Bible and the Catholic church agree there, but I am not ready to scrap the entire public school system on Mr. Gatto's very persuasive and enthusiastic anecdotal evidence after 30 years in one city school district. Might a rural school have fared better if he had spent the same amount of time there. Can the national system of education really have a decades long evil agenda, even if it initially began that way? The system was self-perpetuation because it involves many individuals, a lot of money, and entire industries that now feed into it. Even the home school industry has many dollars riding on education. Which leads me to my original question that led to the search for the book...
artwork from digiscrap studio and holly murphy

And the one thing I really wanted to know, why I even bought the book was his idea that it takes about 100 hours to transmit the information to a child how to read, write, and do math once that child is sufficiently ready and zero money. If that is true, then I can definitely teach my children. Can I really home school, or do I need an expert to teach me how to do it...I was unable to find expert support (damn my compulsory schooling!) for that statement, however, I will keep looking. If its true, then really, I just have to make them love learning, follow their lead and natural inquisitiveness, keep them away from television (which Gatto said is the second agenda stealing our children away from their natural support) and wait until they are emotionally ready to learn. Then they will excel. In that case, Mr. Gatto has made me a believer. That is supported by the millions who do home school. I may be a product of my education, but I'm not stupid!

If you are even a little curious, whether or not you may choose to homeschool, this is an important look at the state of our nation's future...our youth. I have the book linked in my Amazon widget on this page...enjoy! I sit here several days after we adopted an abandoned kitten, much to Ashe's dismay, she is still hissing, and wondering if we are going to have to bury it, too...any cat experts out there...

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John Taylor Gatto. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (p. 13). Kindle Edition.  

John Taylor Gatto. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (p. 16). Kindle Edition.

John Taylor Gatto. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (p. 33). Kindle Edition.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


So I am pretty sure I am going to home school, at least this summer and see how it goes. None of my children, with the exception of Tina, is a very serious student. I figure I probably cannot hurt them and maybe it will help. If it goes well with all of them, I am sure I will be able to handle most through the school year. My reasons for homeschooling have very little to do with education, though :o(

Why Home school?
  1. The majority of our children, 7 out of 11, are from a sibling group who were adopted out of foster care two years ago. We need to learn how to be a family and that is difficult with our current schedules.
  2. Many of the children were born addicted to drugs and we believe they can be helped through nutrition. In fact, last summer we implemented a whole food diet and we saw tremendous gains...we think we can do better but consistency counts. Not only does the time spent away from home hurt this, but just being in public school has hurt. The children want what they see their friends eat...and its always "just one special treat."
  3. The children have all missed early stimulation and some basic skills. Our public school has been amazing in trying to close the gaps, but it is just too hard.

Why not Home school?
  1. There are a lot of them and one of me. If I disappear after June and don't return, would someone please call for help!
  2. I really don't know anything about teaching. I am an avid reader and I can read about how to do it, but I really don't know what to do!!
  3. Um, there are a lot of them...
So that's the plan...My reason's to are much more compelling than my reasons not to, but still...I'm afraid. Given that none of our children are destined to be scholars, I tell myself that the reasons to keep them home will benefit them in the long run, but that is a huge gamble to take. Do you think I can teach myself enough skill to make this work. I have seriously considered signing up for a teaching program, but the idea of starting a new bachelors at 50 just doesn't sit well with me. I have a few Masters credits but they are in social work. Is there something I could do to add to it to help. Because of the unpredictability of my MS, I am unlikely to ever return to the work world, so could it be helpful enough for me to justify the expense?

And then there is the aspect of printables. I have become obsessed with making printables for subjects. I always try to have something on hand if we an event coming up or to help with homework. So I was reading one of my new favorite teacher blogs (I really love almost all of them! They are so fun!) They are having classes online and while I think it is in regards to making and marketing printables, they are sharing teaching ideas? Could this help. It is infinitely affordable and I would be learning some skills? Any thoughts? Better ideas? Just trust God to help me do this...

Any teachers out there want to chime in.
Any teachers out there want to take the class or teach me...Here is a link to the site I was on and the information regarding the class...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mother knows Best?

So I woke up yesterday morning. After getting most of the kids off to school with Shawn, I saw that I had one out of school son sleeping over...must have visited the girlfriend last night and no gas money to get back to his apartment. Another son sleeping in nursing a cold. Two small girls also nursing a cold but suffering from a slight fever, rendering them ineligible for public school today. Grabbing the girls, my phone, and my vitamins, I began I began to surf. While perusing my messages, I found what looked to be an interesting article from a blogger I subscribe to..."Why I don't encourage my girls to follow their dreams..." Hmmm, sounds like something Mariah would claim on her facebook page that I said to her and I took a look. At first glance, I agreed with the article. I absolutely want my daughters to marry, forever, and give being a homemaker a good shot. I feel its so important. Then with a quick glance at facebook which I have completely abandoned this week while fending off flu germs and mourning the candidacy of my favored candidate while he watches his child, sigh...I see that another GOP candidate was crucified in the news by Obama's new press agent who said his wife could not relate to American mother's because she had never worked a day in her life. She was reportedly avenged by none other than Michelle Obama, who gave her the big girlfriend high five. Did I miss so much in just a week of flu germs and Clorox free white vinegar disinfectant wipe-downs. Yes, it was a big mommy week. But isn't it always!

Truly, I was great with Kelly's blog, but I am an adult woman. I suspect that I am an incredibly rebellious adult woman when I agreed with it. My husband would agree that only in my better moments do I agree with her. I was having one when I read it. I could, and should, do better. I agreed with her assertations for myself. Do I think for Mariah, she is correct. While I want for Mariah all the things she claimed God wanted in the Bible...a qualified yes. I think nothing would make me happier than Mariah living her life, for God...with a Godly husband who supports her and their eventual children. Very happy. If that is what she chooses. Because God does allow that choice.
When Hilary Rosen decided to take a swipe at Ann Romney, I am sure she did not expect the backlash that it would create, even before her boss's wife chimed in. Many others have said things that in hindsight, would have been better not to utter. I would have to say that the most ignorant thing that she said was that American women wouldn't find her relate-able...I have never been able to relate to any of the First Lady's...not because they are or aren't mothers, but because they live a life of scrutiny that I cannot even imagine. I wouldn't be able to relate to Mrs. Romney in any way, despite the fact that she has many children, she has stayed home with them, and she has MS. She is a different religion, a different tax bracket, and she has stared death in the eye more than once. There are a million different reasons why I wouldn't relate to her, any more than I did Mrs. Obama. Women need to learn to respect each other's choices in all area's, but motherhood is an area where we should be the most sensitive. There are a million reasons why they need to work or stay home. Express themselves or die to self. Have children or don't...So complicated and so simple...Really. I thought I would die if I didn't have a child...and then I had many at once...this was my life...

Yes, God wants us to obey him. We don't always listen...heck, we don't usually even ask. Some may get that at 18. Others not until they are considerably older. Others may never. I hope, for my daughter's sake, she is closer to the one who gets it at 18. I want my girl...all of my girls to know God enough to have a glimpse of what He wishes for her to do and to have the maturity to decide to go along with that plan. I haven't even begun to think about the other side of that decision...the fatherhood side. Something that neither Miss Rosen or Kelly addressed; the man in our daughter's life that will be the father of the child. If I want for my daughter to commit, for life, to a man, we will need to be praying very hard that he shows up. Right now Mariah's only qualification are that he is "hot." I have a few more expectations. Our society is not making many young people who will fit that bill. Even my own boys are lacking some essential qualities that I would like my prospective son-in-laws to possess. I would not be adverse to Mariah having some marketable skills to fall back on, however, I would like her to be able to use them in rearing my grandchildren. But what will God want for her?
Something that Kelly didn't address in her blog. Sometimes God wishes to use us for things that he didn't plan, but will save the soul of another. Yes, God used those people in the catacombs and it wasn't easy. Some people may have to lose children in order for someone else to be saved. I don't know anything on this side of the tapestry...I do not know what people in my life may have suffered in order for me or someone else to be saved. I believe that God does not cause bad things to happen to us, but I do believe in His sovereignty. He orchestrates all things. I believe that He thinks enough of us to let us die. When we realize that His ultimate aim is for us to live with Him forever in Heaven I think maybe we make too much of all of this. We can never presume to know His will because we could never, not in a million years, know what it really is that He wants us to do. And some things, marry, have a child, homeschool them, nurse, be a teacher...none are intrinsically wrong or right. To say that God wants us to have as many children as possible is to deny God's plan for us, which could be anything because we could never know what He needs us to do. So, I want my daughters to do whatever God needs them to do, whether or not it sounds like what I need them to do. My heavenly father loves all of us more than I can even imagine and we have no way of knowing what He needs us to do...I just pray that we have the stregnth to comply...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hang on, Jesus! I'm coming!!

I was sitting waiting for Mass to begin last week...we were quite a bit early. I was chatting with my 8 year old son trying to focus him quietly; there is nothing he dislikes more than being quiet and sitting for long periods of time. Collecting Palms was a distraction at first, but his beloved Palm was now sitting ignored as he looked around and gave me a non-stop commentary on other parishioners. All of a sudden in mid-sentence, he sat up straight in his seat and yelled, "Hey, why did they cover up Jesus? What are they doing...He can't breath. They are trying to kill Jesus!!" He jumped to his feet and whipped out his Palm sword and his cross shield (made by twisting the palm into a cross) He yelled, "Hang on, Jesus...I'm coming!!"
Oh, how wonderful it would be to always be prepared to help Jesus, no matter the problem. How wonderful it would be to always be ready to jump up eager to be of use to the Lord.

I keep the Lord always before me; for with him at my right hand, I will never be shaken. (Ps 16:8)

graphics by digi web studio

I have a printable download available for your child to use to be in God's it here...

Such a joy to see the new Catholic's energy...Ant was nodding and looking all pleased with himself...I told him then, "Just next month almost all of you will be able to to receive the body of Christ!" His response, mouth open wide..."what!" It is obvious we have much more work to do!!

While four of our children entered into the church with Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist during the Easter Vigil Saturday night, four more have sacraments in the coming weeks. My 10th and 11th graders make Confirmation. Our Third and Fourth graders make First Eucharist. We still have a lot of work to do this Easter. And now is a time to have strong Catholic youth. Our children really do need to be in God's Army. Our church is attacked on all sides both in the world and spiritually. The world is ready to attack the Church by not only ignoring its teachings, through practices such as abortion, but also through legislative means, like through Obama's Mandate. We also attack the foundations of the Church through things like the Clerical Abuse Scandal...both fabricated stories of abuse or real abuse perpetrated decades ago. It erodes the pride and dignity we feel in our Church. We need to learn about our faith. We need to move past the scandals. We need strong children of God to learn and fight for our church. Thank-you, God, for the 11 children you have given Shawn and me to train and teach. May they become strong soldiers for your Holy War...Amen.

(This has been posted at Catholic Icing's First Friday here to go back to Catholic Icing)
May you all have a very Blessed Easter!!
the Murphy's

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Girls Can Be Firefighters, Too...

Curly Sue Fire Safety by Scrappin Doodles

We had an Easter Egg hunt this weekend in our town and the girls who did not have football wanted to attend. Of course we didn't hunt for any eggs. There were bounce houses and balloon art. Then the Fire and Police Departments showed up...Who cares about bounce houses and easter eggs when there is a fire truck and horses!!

Come back tomorrow and I will have a free Fire Safety Printable for you to download!