Friday Random Mess

Let’s kick off the weekend with some links, shall we?

Have you joined the Global Walkout yet? Don’t let the big banks, big ag, big pharma, and big government run and ruin your life. All you have to do is walk out. Start at Step 1 if you’re new to the idea. Step 9 is for business people to encourage their customers to prefer cash payment:

Step 9

Eric Peters has coined a useful word to describe the Cult of the White Coat: allopathia

So, yes, this government is completely lawless now. What are you going to do about it, plebe?: Facebook and Twitter created special portals for the government to rapidly request takedowns of content. 

What you were not taught about Christopher Columbus and Islam. When I was in school, Columbus was still a celebrated figure, but I don’t think one word was said about Islam. If I had no interest in history as an adult, I would have been surprised by all of this. History class is a joke, and has been for a long, long time. Homeschool, people.

33 Things Christian Men Should Know About Women. I’ll probably have my sons read this. I’d quibble with this a bit:

25. It’s common for a woman to conform to a man’s interests and hobbies to receive his affection

A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God. —Deuteronomy 22:5

I don’t know when it began that men started to desire women who shared the same masculine hobbies as them. “She loves watching sports, drinking beer, and shooting guns… I’m in love!” It must be a sign of the times when narcissism is so high that men look to women to be just like them instead of understanding that God created two sexes with a distinct division of gifts for maintaining a family home.

When men signal they like a woman with masculine hobbies, women will soon come to “love” masculine hobbies. There are millions of women in the United States who know more than me about pro football, craft beer, bodybuilding, shooting guns, comic book movies, and all the most appropriate times to use profanity in conversation. They may not admit it to you, but I believe they do these things to maximize their chances of receiving affection from men and to sustain that affection by being able to talk about the things that men like.

There’s nothing sinister or upside-down about a woman who’s into a man taking on his interests to a degree. I learned a lot about Linux in order to cozy up to my future husband. In fact, I became very proficient for a while and impressed him with a few unexpected skills. Can’t remember much now, but I can still converse intelligently with him about his jobby (job+hobby). I was already interested in more “masculine” stuff because I was a daddy’s girl. I never thought to compete with my husband, and I never thought to trick him into thinking I was going to be his best buddy at the shooting range, although I certainly am. I did think I needed to prove my worth as his life-long partner.

The reason it is common for women to conform to a man’s interests is that a woman needs to be familiar enough with her husband’s interests to be a good helpmeet and an understanding companion. It is natural and healthy to do that. A woman who can’t do that is probably not going to be a felicitous match. Best to find that out before the wedding, no? An unregenerate or un-selfaware woman will turn that into a competition, though, and make for a cold marriage once she catches him and either begins to compete, or becomes completely cold to his interests, and thus his needs.

Another fertilizer plant destroyed. It really is on purpose, people.

Nice one today, Stonetoss:

R-ticulate image number 0

Britain threating jailtime for praying in front of abortion clinics. Prayer is powerful. The enemy knows this. It’s time we realized it, as well, and started really doing it.

That’s all for this week. We’re about to go dip some beeswax candles. Will probably blog that! Happy weekend, friends!

 

Steak Crisps

I wouldn’t want to name them ‘beef chips’.

The thing I miss the most about eating carbs is crispy textures. I love potato chips, crackers, crisp cookies. I don’t love what those things do to my body, though, so I’ve stayed away for years. You can buy crispy carnivore snacks, but I can’t afford that stuff.

What I’ve taken to doing is as simple as can be, and not at all expensive if you can find these on sale. My favorite local grocery store frequently sells the steak-um style beef sheets for 2 for $5.

This is not even a recipe, it’s so simple.

  1. Lay your sheets out in the food dehydrator on the wire racks. I put one of the plastic fruit-leather pans on the bottom rack to catch any drips of fat. Do remove the paper that separates the meat-sheets. I left them on once, and the food stuck to it. Very disappointing.
  2. Salt or season to taste. I usually use plain Redmond’s Real Salt. The smoked salt was delicious, but sprinkle very lightly. The bigger crystals will overwhelm the flavor.
  3. Dry at around 160°F for 12 hours.

Eat them right away or bag them up for later. I keep them in the fridge. It doesn’t take us long to eat them all, so I’m not sure how shelf-stable or travelable they are.

Doggies will want some. Don’t be stingy:

What I Eat in a Day

A carnivore diet is the easiest thing in the world to plan, but some people still have trouble envisioning what their plates should look like without a side of taters and a dessert. Probably the hardest thing to get used to is thinking of meat (and eggs and dairy, if you add those) as a whole meal all by itself.

I hope you’ll see that my food is not completely boring, that I don’t have to be perfect to get great results, and above all, that it is OK to pile your plate right up to the heavens if that’s how much food you need today. It’s also OK to skip a meal you don’t feel you need it. I’m not suggesting that everyone should eat the same amount or things that I do. This is just meant to give ideas to those who maybe have none. If you’re more interested in keto than carnivore, just imagine a few asparagus on the side of my plates. Sometimes–very occasionally–I even put a few of those on my plate. It’s a way of eating, not a religion.

Anyway, here’s what I ate Saturday, September 3 (yes, this was a month ago. I’m a little behind on everything rn):

First meal: Ground beef “salad”. Cold, leftover plain ground beef, smoked salt, cubed butter, and cubed feta goat cheese. Not pictured are the two slices of bacon I ate before I thought to write this post. This was about 1/2 a pound of meat, I reckon, and an ounce each of butter and cheese. I don’t always eat breakfast, but it’s usually something left over from a previous meal if I do.

Lunch: steak and deviled eggs (there’s a little pickle in the eggs):

Snack, cute little caterpillar. I did not eat the leaf:

I’m kidding, of course. I do not eat bugs, but I suppose that would still be carnivore.

And finally, a small snack in the afternoon after a late workout, cottage cheese with a few cherries, which are not meat. I cannot resist cherries or pears when they are perfect and in-season. That only happens for about 2 weeks every summer, so this is a self-limiting indulgence. They taste just awful the rest of the year.:

I’m sure there are carnivores who would light their hair on fire and read me out of the tribe for that last meal. It’s got fructose! But I’m metabolically quite healthy, and not addicted to sweets in a way that will make me spiral out-of-control just because I had a bite. I’d worked out pretty hard in the afternoon and wanted to close my eating window by four o’clock, and this is the food that presented itself.

You may recall from earlier posts that I do have some problems with dairy. It does cause some inflammation and anxiety, so I limit it. But I also find that including dairy helps me build muscle in a way that meat and eggs don’t seem to do. Dairy is designed to make things grow, after all. It’s a trade-off I’m sometimes willing to make for a few weeks of body-building, but not permanently. At the first sign of an auto-immune flare-up, the dairy is out again. HS is not something I like to fool around with. I’d probably be better off in some ways if I never did that, but after a lot of experimentation, I think I’ve found an acceptable amount of dairy that works for my goals.

So that was a fairly normal day last month. The cherries are an outlier, but I wouldn’t want to lie ye. I’ll try to remember to do a few more of these so the curious can see what other days look like, and hopefully be inspired to make healthier choices for themselves. Any carnivores in the house? What are you having today?

Friday Random Mess

Hey, we made it through our first couple of weeks of school! I have some stuff bookmarked that I could share. I’m not sure how much good news I can find these days, but Jesus saves, so there’s always that Good News. Leading with the low-stress:

Kelly, at Generation Cedar, is a mom I look up to. She posted this week about having her children in worship. “Big church” as the church we’ve recently left used to call it, is for everyone.

I’ll give that a hearty “amen” by reposting a snippet from something I wrote on GAH 1.0 on the topic:

The reason most often given for separating the little ones from their families during worship is that “they need to learn at their own level”.

Children emphatically do not need to be taught about Christ “at their level”. In fact, I think children need us to go over their heads. It gives them something to grow into. Understanding doesn’t grow through spoon-feeding and condescension. It grows through exposure to difficult concepts. One of the most important things I’ve learned while teaching my own children is that if you don’t teach “over their heads”, growth takes longer, and sometimes doesn’t happen at all.

I frequently read to my children from the difficult-to-understand translations of the Bible. Our read-aloud books are above their heads sometimes, but they still learn, as evidenced by their ability to retain information that I myself skip right past at times.

I spent much of my childhood listening to things that were “over my head” and that little ones shouldn’t be “allowed” to hear.

It was in those services that were supposedly so difficult for my little brain to comprehend that I learned the hymns that comfort me in my afflictions now. It was in those services that I  ”couldn’t understand” that I found out that Jesus was not just a comfortable friend, but a Redeemer and a Savior, and a Sufferer who bled and died for me. I don’t know about most people, but I can’t remember a single Sunday school class where it was really brought home to me how little I deserved such treatment from God Himself. It took grown-up preaching to do that.

I wanted to take this opportunity to recommend to you the Revero website, a carnivore community in which I’m both a lifetime member and an investor. If you want to get on the path to health, whether you suffer from metabolic disease, chronic pain, or auto-immune problems, a carnivore approach can help. Get community support for free for a month and see what happens for you.

I’ve been fermenting up a storm (not to be confused with fomenting a rebellion, which hasn’t happened…yet) this summer. DTG shows you how here:

Homemade Pickles

We’ve been attending a Baptist church lately, as I may have mentioned already. I’m not knocking my brothers and sisters there, but this post from Young Gospel Minister has some truth to throw down: Baptists have made some mistakes.

The Safe and Effective Narrative is Collapsing, by Steve Kirsh, is a good read. As the political left starts to realize this, and they give Trump all the blame, let them. He wants the credit. He’s still singing the praises of Operation Warp Speed, which made all this sickness and death possible. He let us down when it came to covid, and then the shots. Fool me once, shame on you…

Preppers are insane, right? Don’t listen to what they say. Watch what they do. Barrack Obama has an industrial-sized natural gas tank installed at his vacation home. Now, what do you suppose he’d need all that for?

While they’re installing smart meters and rationing electricity, and while admitting they couldn’t possibly charge that many electric cars:

BREAKING: California to BAN Sales of Gas-Powered Vehicles

This is not about taking care of the environment. It’s about starving you out, Americans.

If making you ingest the industrial wastes of seed oils and fluoride for the last hundred years wasn’t bad enough, wait until you see what they want to feed you now: wind turbine blades. No kidding. You’re not just slaves, but living garbage disposals.

If you’re resisting the idea of quitting coffee (I explained why I did in my post earlier this week), this might encourage you to kick the habit in the very near future.

Coffee Prices Set To Skyrocket

Is chocolate any better than coffee? Well, no. And it turns out it won’t help your heart-health much, either:

Can cocoa help prevent cardiovascular death?

I’ve been trying to get my body temperature up for the last couple of years. Due to my thyroid dysfunction, it’s been a struggle, but I’m finally about 98.0 most days! Some researchers have found that the population’s average body temperature has decreased over the last hundred years. They’re baffled as to why. They hypothesize that it is because we are less inflamed and healthier as a population. You have GOT to be kidding me. Obesity afflicts nearly 3/4 of the adult population, and growing. We are not less inflamed. We’re in a state of torpor, high inflammation.

Stop eating seed oils and high carbohydrate processed foods. Get more exercise. Get more sunshine. If everybody did that, in 20 years the geniuses who study our society will be absolutely stumped as to why body temperatures are increasing again.

They’ll blame global warming and inflammation, of course, and call it a bad thing. But you’ll feel like a million bucks, so it won’t matter what they think.

 

 

Large Family Homeschooling Tip

Stagger your start.

I told somebody I was doing this, and she said “That’s some next level thinking, right there.” Well, shucks, if she sees it like that, then maybe somebody else will, too. Since I have only seven students this year, the eldest having turned down my offer of home-college, you’d think I’d be looking forward to an easier year. For some reason, I’m all nerves about this school year. Perhaps it’s the precocious nature of my youngest students, and their incessant demands to do more, or the fact that I flubbed last school year royally by trying to join a co-op against my own personality and academic judgment. Or maybe it’s just the caterpillar’s dilemma, homeschooling a family this size, it’s easy to get your feet all tangled together, not knowing which one should move next.

Whatever it is that has me feeling like an absolute rookie this time around, I just didn’t feel ready yet when the time came, but we really needed to get started. So I just started the two smallest on the first week. We dipped our adorable little toes into the kindy-and-first grade stuff, and I let the bigger kids do whatever they wanted for the week. Some of them decided to get out some independent work, and some of them played in the mud. It was a nice week.

Then I added the next three, “grades” 3, 5, and 6. Finally, this week, I added the high schoolers.

Did that help me feel any more prepared? Well, no. I still feel like there’s no way I’m ready for this. But we’re into the swing of it now whether I like it or not, and at least it helped me prepare my smaller ones to anticipate the routines, and to get familiar with the curriculum. It also gave me some sweet moments to pay extra attention to my littles. These baby days are so painfully short.

No matter how many students you have, you may find that starting them at different times is a less stressful way to get everyone moving.

Happy new school year, homeschoolers! Keep doing what you do!

Of Kale and Coffee

“What’s wrong with kale?” a reader wanted to know after my post about parental bribery, which was not really about kale. I trust this means that my point about parenting was well-taken, at least.

If I didn’t have a personal clean speech policy, I’d gladly don the t-shirt that Paul Salad-no–er, Saladino–likes to wear:

I know people hear that and think it’s some kind of anti-health joke, but I am in earnest when I say you shouldn’t eat it. It is mostly unusable fiber, useful only for making your poops big. It is also loaded with compounds that both inhibit absorption of any nutrients that might be found in it and could potentially harm you in other ways. Cooking it can take care of some of these chemicals, but not all. It’s a leafy green that has iron, you say? Sorry, mom, it’s not iron that a human body can use very well. You’re much better off eating an ounce of liver, or just plain old ground beef, than several cups of kale.

The goitrogens found in kale and all of its relatives are the main reason I find that mother’s feeding of her children to be appalling. That wasn’t just kale, but raw kale. The kids’ thyroids will survive a few doses of that, but over a lifetime? This is an incredibly bad idea.

Is kale good for anything? Well, we took a weekend trip to Asheville a few years ago and saw that they had kale planted in the flower beds. I approve of this use of kale. And look, if you cook it real good to get the goitrogens out and eat it far, far away from any foods you want to actually absorb, you can eat some kale and not be harmed by it. If you really like it (you freak), your pleasure is a good worth pursuing. It’s not a bad poison in the right dose, delivered the right way. You might even get some trace minerals with your snack, if you salt it with an unrefined salt. But kale is not really helping anything, once you factor in the numerous downsides.

And now I turn my baleful gaze on coffee. I can hear you already screaming “Why do you have to ruin everything, Cindy? Why?!” Coffee is good for you. Everybody says so. Just like kale. In fact, Ken Berry says it’s good for you (or did, back when he posted this), so you can comfort yourself with this happy video:

I believe I heard that the good doctor has quit coffee himself now, and become somewhat less certain of himself in this regard.

I’ll let Paul Saladino explain the problem with coffee, which also happens to be the problem with chocolate.

If you don’t have time to watch, that’s fine. It’s all pretty sciencey and involved. Suffice it to say that there are good reasons to turn down that morning cup of wakefulness.

For myself, coffee and chocolate both were causing hormonal acne. I’m not sure if it was the high cortisol, the disturbed sleep, some chemical from the growing or processing of those beans, or something else I can’t even think of, but my face had at least one, sometimes two or three new oil volcanoes every month, right about that time, IYKWIM. I looked awful. One thing I’m certain of is that caffeine all by itself is not causing these problems. I’m still having the equivalent of one to two cups a day with Run gum (that link gets you 20% off for the next two shoppers that use it), which I will be stopping as soon as I feel like it, which is not right now. I also like a yerba mate or yaupon tea from time to time, as they’re a low-oxalate alternative to pekoe tea.

I quit chocolate first, and things got some better. I did see improvement, but not enough to think I’d really solved the problem. It wasn’t until I finally broke the coffee (not to say the caffeine) habit that I experienced healing to an extent that made me a believer. Since I quit, my body temperature has risen, as well, so it was affecting my thyroid, as well.

These beans are not good for me.

Should you quit your coffee? I don’t know. If you’re sleeping beautifully (you’ll have to let me tell you about my Oura ring sometime!), no skin problems, stable mood, no gut or hormonal problems, then go ahead and enjoy your bitter brew. But know that it’s probably going to bite you someday if you can’t moderate the habit.

You should definitely quit kale though. Definitely.

One of Us Is Miserable

And it ain’t me.

A few weeks ago, we had some men removing some dead trees around our house. While I was walking out with one of them to look at the job, he asked how I was doing today.

“I’m a little bit groggy, but good. Quit coffee.”

“Why’d you do that?”

“It’s just not good for me at all.”

“Does everything you do have to be good for you?”

That question struck me as funny. It gave me a little insight into the thinking of a guy whose physical condition and demeanor makes me think he’s probably not doing very many things that are good for him at all. In fact, I think he’s probably having a lot of temporary fun at the expense of his future happiness. He seems to be about my age, maybe a few years older, but he already has greying hair, a big ol’ fatty-liver belly, and weathered-looking skin that makes me think an early bedtime and clean food and drink are not priorities for him. Nice guy, still has a great set of teeth.

He’d driven past while I was out running earlier in the week, and probably at this point figured out that I’m pretty heavily invested in my health. I don’t care what a random guy thinks of my lifestyle, but it made me want to explain myself to the Universe, which is about all this blog is good for.

Does everything I do have to be good for me?

Well, no. In fact, not everything I do is good for me. For instance, today is my birthday, and I will probably eat something ill-advised, but not too ill-advised, certainly not cake, right before I have a gin and tonic and go bowling with Get Along Husband. I don’t know why, but one little drink makes me much better at bowling. For that matter, it’s a magic elixir for playing piano and writing, as well. So I guess you could say it’s good for me in some small respect. Two drinks, though, and I’m nearly retarded, so it’s a self-limiting indulgence.

Since I’m in good health after a few years of intensive repairs, it’s not really much of a ding at all to my system to have a little birthday treat. But if I did things like that regularly, instead of just on my birthday, I’d eventually slide down into the same pit this guy is clearly headed for. How long would it take? How many times a month or week could I get away with such things? I don’t know. I used to joke that when I’m ninety, I’m going to take back up smoking and eating pizza. I can’t possibly have long enough to live after that for those things to really wreck me, right?

But I no longer joke that way. When I’m ninety, I expect I’ll care just as much about the way I feel as I do today at…well, I’m not twenty-nine anymore, anyway. Or even thirty-nine. Sob.

Obviously, there are people who look at the lifestyle I’ve gotten myself into and think it looks absolutely miserable. I exercise for at least forty-five minutes, four to six days a week. I have very little “entertainment food”. (Anything that is not meat is entertainment food.) I have regular bedtimes. I’m still working on no drugs, since caffeine is a drug, and I still dose that in the form of an energy gum. It doesn’t harm me the way coffee does for some reason. I consume very little alcohol. It sounds awful to some because they want comfort, self-indulgence, and entertainment all the time. Many people don’t think what I’m doing would fulfill all those “needs” of theirs.

That’s just not true! I am very satisfied with my food. I’m entertained by all sorts of non-food and drink activities. I’m pain-free. I’m having so much FUN zipping (it’s zipping for me, anyway) up and down these mountain roads, lifting heavy weights, and doing high intensity training. I feel good pretty much all the time. I’m not huffing and puffing just walking around. I don’t have pain in every joint from eating inflammatory foods. I could go on, but suffice it to say, as Owen Benjamin likes to phrase it, nobody is having more fun than me! (I know, that should be “I”, not “me”, but good grammar just doesn’t sound like as much fun, does it?)

When I first started on the long road to getting fit, I had a negative goal. I didn’t cut carbs and seed oils out of my life in order to feel good. I cut them out because I felt bad. I sometimes thought I was condemning myself to a life of no pleasure, every day, forever. I once sat and watched people eat pizza and a lone little tear trickled out of my left eye, because I missed it that much. But even without a vision of myself in good health and mental state, I still had a very compelling example before me as I watched my grandmother’s decline.

She was diagnosed with Type II diabetes many years ago, and I watched her devolve over those decades from a vibrant, hard-working, helpful (sometimes overly so, bless her heart) individual with a rock-solid will and an inordinate amount of self-confidence to a frail, sad, weak, dependent old lady with several advanced diseases, all metabolic in nature. It was sad and frustrating to stand helplessly by as doctors operated and injected and dosed her to death, when all she really needed was to stop taking the poison that had made her that way. She died last October, and instead of celebrating a long, victorious, productive life, we were mostly just relieved that she was no longer suffering. I simply did not want to live or die like that.

It didn’t have to be that way.  Her food was poison to her body and her mind, and nobody ever told her until it was too late. So far as in me lies the ability, I won’t let it be that way for myself, or for anybody else that I have any direct influence over.

Now, though, I don’t do “crazy” health things because I’m scared. I do them because I enjoy life in a way that I didn’t even know was possible before. I now have a positive reason for not eating that nasty, super-sweet birthday cake I used to think was so good: I want to feel good on my birthday! I want to have as many good birthdays as possible!

I want that so much, in fact, that there’s a good chance that, while I do fully intend to let loose a little bit today, I may come to the point of decision and not even care if I have a treat or not. I can take the ding to my temporary metabolic state. It’s hardly even a thing at this point. But I don’t have to. I can just not do that.

That is power.

And I guess that’s the point I really want to bring to my reader today, especially if you’re a food or drug or caffeine (I’m still working on that, myself) addict. You always have a choice to make, even in the middle of that bite you shouldn’t have taken. You can spit it out. You can choose to do better with the very next breath, without hating yourself, without punishing yourself, you can just decide right now:

“No, I want to feel good. I want to perform. I want to be sharp-minded. I want to be proud of myself. I don’t want to be a slave to my pleasures any more. I don’t want to become weak, demented, and helpless.”

It is not a life of misery to love the body God gave you enough to go through the emotional pain of not eating or drinking the things that you just can’t resist. It is temporary. Once you’re through it, you’re through it, and for the rest of your life your health will be as much within your control as the Lord wills.

Everything I do doesn’t have to be good for me, but everything I do does have to be a conscious and rational choice that doesn’t hinder me from getting better and better. I’m in a place where I can do that now, and it feels like super-power. I’m not special. Anybody can get here, and if anybody reading this wants personal encouragement, hit me up in the comments or by email, and I’ll cheer you on and advise you as much as I can.

Can You Stay at Home Too Much?

A friend on social media asked how often she should be getting her children out of the house, and I remembered this post from my younger days, when I had things all figured out. My answer is simply this: You do not have to be out all the time to be busy. You do not have to be outside the home to be productive and engaged and happy. In fact, being outside of the home for play and education too often can really hamper your family’s peace. Small children are happiest in a quiet home with family for 90% of their waking hours.

Having lived eleven more years in the same way, and with a couple of older teens to show for it now, I can affirm the truth that your children will be well-adjusted and socially normal people (unlike public schooled kids, alas) on a diet of just one or two contacts a week with non-family members, and sometimes a whole lot less than that. We didn’t really even have that many playdates. Social contacts have been natural relationships– family, neighbors, church friends, etc.–for the most part, not groups that we cobbled together out of fear of not having enough “socialization”.

Staying Home (Originally posted October 11, 2011)

I mentioned once in a different post that my first reason for homeschooling, chronologically speaking, was a desire to avoid the typical American “real life is everywhere but home” attitude. A lifestyle different from the one I grew up with just sounded good to me, so I did it.

A commenter, as people on the internet frequently do, thought that from that single post she had learned everything she needed to know about me, and accused me of “projecting” my introversion (some people seem to think introversion is a mental illness instead of a personality trait) on my kids instead of letting them live real lives like other kids do. You know, full, active lives spent behind desks, on school buses, and standing in line.

The problem with blogging is that a single post is all some people ever read. I have many good reasons for homeschooling my kids, but even if that were my only reason, it would be good enough. You see, I have a right to live my life the best way I know how, and to provide for my children whatever lifestyle I think is best. I think it’s best if we live quieter lives at a less hectic pace than most Americans seem comfortable with. If anyone doesn’t like that, then that person is free to live some other way!
While I don’t think my preferences are necessarily the best for everybody, they are wonderful for my family–a realization that asserts itself anew every time I spend more than a few days in a row doing something “out”. We’ve been on the go for the last week, without a single day just being at home, and my life has gotten away from me! My schedule is still doing its job, getting us back on track as soon as we get home, but I’m so tired I could cry. Not just tired, though. Tired, I can deal with.

It’s the lack of time for thought that’s killing me.

I used to wonder why people don’t seem to apply much thought to, well, anything that they do, really. Well, I’ve figured it out. The average American lifestyle (and homeschoolers, this goes for a lot of us, too) leaves absolutely no time for reflection. We’re busy, and we like it that way. Busyness means never having to think uncomfortable thoughts. It means scurrying past the little, but important things to do the urgent, less important things. Even if we accidentally end up with some time on our hands somehow, there’s always the mindless entertainment offered by the idiot box to help us in our quest to avoid introspection.

One of the frequent defenses I hear from homeschooling moms and stay-at-home moms is “We don’t stay home at all! We go everywhere, all the time!” May I gently suggest that we concede too much in giving such an answer to those who think we’re not “working” or “socializing” enough? As if there were something wrong with staying home all day!

Having spent the last several days with an outside-the-home obligation at least once every day, I’m more convinced than ever that the typical American lifestyle is extremely unhealthy in its pace. There’s no need for me to join in the madness.
Repeat after me, homeschoolers:

Home is a good place to be, and I’m not missing anything if I stay there four or five days a week. 

Trust an old mama on this, ok?

That’s Some Lousy Parenting, Right There

And I’m not even talking about the kale. 

Watch this:

Let’s get the obvious point out of the way first: Children should not be made to consume large quantities of raw kale. There’s nothing in that “superfood” that is actually going to benefit their bodies, and harm can be done. We can argue about that some other time, though, veggie lovers, because what I’m really appalled by is the “manifestation of goals” this mother engages in, also known as “bribery”.

Now, tell me this, Mom: When your kids grow up and drink a raw kale smoothie, will that then “manifest” as a reward at Target without your intervention? I’m going to insert here an old post I wrote way back in November of 2010, because everything old is new again eventually:

Taking my six year-old to Pizza Hut last night to collect his very first–and very last—Book-It reward for reading, I asked him if he was looking forward to reading his next book.

“Why would I want to do that?” 
was his reply.

With those words, uttered in complete innocence, the fine mood I’d been in came crashing down to the ground. Suddenly, I was angry. Great. I have de-motivated my son instead of motivating him. Since I hadn’t told him I have 6 vouchers for free pizza, he thought this was all there was. So why try?

I relieved my frustration by envisioning my wildly-chuckling self ripping the vouchers to shreds and burning them. I may have even thought up an incantation to recite while lighting up that offensive booklet. Then I got my son the pizza I’d promised him, came home, and completely forgot to rip those suckers up. Oh, well. They can rot, for all I care. They’ve done me no good whatsoever. Before, I had a boy who read books just to be reading. Now I have a boy who thinks reading is such a miserable chore that you have to bribe him to do it.

Parenting 101: Our kids’ attitudes are formed by our expectations.
 In implementing this reward system I signaled to my son that reading is something disagreeable, and not worth doing for its own sake. Here’s the thing, though: I knew that. I do not reward my children for doing what they ought to be doing anyway. I’ve never used candy or stickers to bribe my kids during potty-training or for anything else I want them to learn. I do give gifts to celebrate milestones sometimes,  but not as rewards the child is working toward. For us the finished product is the prize. So what happened to those high-falutin’ ideals this time?

Instead of sticking to my usual methods, when I learned about the Book-It program for homeschoolers, I went for the freebie. Free is good, right? Try as I may, I can not resist a freebie. I just wanted to get some of that sweet pizza action for my kid.

I hearkened back to my memories of the program when I was in school. I loved to read, so the pizza was just a neat thing to me, a poor kid who didn’t get restaurant food very often. I do remember feeling like my teachers were being rather patronizing, thinking I’d never read if they didn’t trick me into it. I wasn’t deterred from reading after the program ended because I didn’t care very much what the pizza was for. If they’d offered rewards for something I hated doing, like public speaking, I wouldn’t have been getting that pie. The fact that I can remember feeling that way–slightly embarrassed to even be accepting the reward–really ought to have deterred me from “encouraging” my own kids this way. Ah, but everybody says it works!

In public schools, kids expect their teachers to be condescending, handing out a certificate every time a student remembers to cover his mouth when he sneezes. Our system pretty much demands it, lest some slow child be left behind, or worse, feel inferior. The children recover from those slights and do what they’re going to do anyway, incentives or no incentives. A good learner will learn. A poor learner won’t, no matter how high the cheesy, saucy stakes.

Kids do not expect that kind of horse-trading from their parents, however. At least, mine don’t. I don’t work that way, and they know it, so it must have thrown my son for quite a loop when I explained this program to him. He must have gotten the idea that that reading isn’t to be done for its own sake. Now I’m going to have to undo my bad work.
Hopefully, the memory of this whole thing will fade and

the child will rediscover the joy of reading just because he can.

 

I have no doubt he will, since I’m just going to expect it and he’s just going to have to. I’m trying not to kick myself too hard for this ridiculous mistake. It’s really just a hiccup for us…

So why would those kids drink the kale in the future? (Perhaps we should be relieved to think that they probably won’t.) Why would my son read a book?  When he reads a book, that does not “manifest” as a pizza anymore. If I didn’t like reading, I either wouldn’t read now, or if I did read simply because I was taught that I should, would I then hie me to the kitchen for a brownie to reward myself? Probably. This goes for allowances, too. Is your allowance based on whether children get their daily chores finished? The chores that they should be doing because the reward is a clean home and a happy family?

Are they learning that working around the home, for your family, is a cash transaction?

What are you really teaching your children when you tie an unrelated reward to the action?  Let’s pretend for a moment that drinking kale (God help us) actually is a healthy thing to do. Only if the children’s goal was “get healthy” is that “manifestation” going to happen for them outside of your parental intervention. What that child has learned is that if he does something unpleasant, he now deserves something pleasant that is completely unrelated to the unpleasant thing.

You’re setting up an addictive and self-destructive cycle in your child! Every “good” thing he does is now an excuse for self-indulgence. 

Do you know somebody who has a piece of cake or a glass of alcohol (or more) at the end of a hard day (or hour) because he “deserves” it? If so, you’re looking at someone who never learned to do the Thing for the sake of the Thing itself. It’s not a bad thing to have a piece of cake or a glass of wine, provided that you’re healthy enough to take the temporary hit to your biological state, but it is a very bad thing if the only reason you stayed on your job after the boss yelled at you was so you could justify your indulgence afterwards.

Mom, if kale is good for him, then he should be drinking these hideous smoothies because the health effects are manifest. If he’s not far-sighted and self-controlled enough to do that yet, you simply expect him to drink it, and model that behavior for him, until he’s old enough to make that decision for himself. Good luck with that, though. Kale is so far from healthful that small children instinctively avoid it. But if the health effects are real, he will see them, first in you, and then in himself. That is the true manifestation of the true goal.

I’m sure that none of my readers would ever do this. You are obviously of a discerning mind, or you wouldn’t be here, right? But I have fallen into that trap, lacking discernment myself at times. Any parent who is desperate to get a struggling child onto the straight and narrow has at least been tempted to use these tactics. Don’t fall for it, moms and dads. As you can see from my own experience, it is counterproductive in the long run.