On Being Proud: It's Not About The Grades

Peanut brought home her first letter-grade report card today. It's her first traditional report card, period. When she attended Montessori school, we had conferences and received written feedback from the teachers, and as the students got older, they participated in the process, as well. But, there were no traditional report cards. She got a 3.86 GPA. She is very proud. She did it all herself.

First grades. First report card. 8th grade.

As a child who unschooled for most of the last three years, you might think I was concerned about how she would handle the academics of her 8th-grade year of school. I wasn't. I don't think she was either. My children have never lost their love of learning. They had excellent teachers in their early years of education, enjoyed an environment where they were free to learn what they desired when the home schooled, and as she entered middle school, she did so with that same self-directed passion she's always had for gaining knowledge.

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't times where she asks for help with a writing assignment, wanting her mother to proofread what she's written or assist her in outlining a paper, but that's mostly died down to minimal assistance the further she's gotten into the school year. The same thing goes for math. She asks for help when she's stuck, but all of the initiative to get her work done comes from her. Nobody nags her. Nobody asks her if she's turned in her assignments. She owns her success 100%. That's why she's proud, and that's why I'm proud of her.

My Girl and Her Kitty Cat

There's more, though. Peanut doesn't just go to school and get good grades. She has found a great group of friends who "make good choices." She volunteers to help kids in our community, something she spearheaded on her own. She doesn't do it because she gets points at school. She doesn't do it because she has to or because it makes her popular. She just does it because she enjoys it.

Even though she leaves her laundry on her bathroom floor, her dishes in places they shouldn't be, and her dog needs a bath right now, she really is a good kid, and I am seriously proud of her.

Tools To Get Help You Survive Fall With Kids

Schmoop: This site is an excellent resource for those nights when your thirteen-year-old comes to you after dinner, just before bedtime, and says she needs help with her thesis statement about Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. It's not going to do the work for her, but it WILL help you help her or help her help herself. Also a great resource for other subjects, test prep, and it's put together by smart people from well-respected higher institutes of learning and such.

Crayola Printables: For serious. This site will keep them busy for HOURS. They will have your house decorated for the holidays in no time and learn a few things in the process. There are decorations, games, puzzles, and best of all, it's all FREE. I love free. Free is my language. Oh, and they have more than just stuff for Thanksgiving. Hit them up for birthdays, other holidays, and the four seasons.

Glue Sticks: Buy them in bulk. You will never have enough. You will never be upset you have invested in a metric fuckton. Keep them somewhere accessible. You will need them.

If you can afford it, an iPad or iPhone/iPod touch. SO. MANY. EDUCATIONAL, yet entertaining apps exist. Our kids are entertained any time we give them the opportunity to use these tools. I'll save my favorites apps for another post.



Touchdown Mermaid: Playing With The Big-Girl Camera

I have no idea what I'm doing with the big-girl camera, but I have fun.

attitude adjustment

I love the backs of flowers.



My sexy-ass BBQist. That look makes me all melty.

doing the wave

This mushroom looks a bit up-skirty. I hope she doesn't mind the invasion of privacy.

I'd have a picnic with you.

I love the way the sun was shooting through the corral slats and leaves from the fig tree. It felt other-wordly and magical to sneak in there and get the shot.

touchdown mermaid in repose

This is my touchdown mermaid. She's a slice of awesome from the Alameda Point Antiques Fair. She greets me at the door. Everybody should be welcomed home by a touchdown mermaid.


This is an apple. Well, I wanted to make sure you knew. Now you know for sure. It's growing on a tree in my yard. I plan to eat it if that asshole squirrel I caught out there the other night doesn't grab it first. I might make the dog sleep outside until apple season is over. Squirrels. Touching my apples. Totally unacceptable.

Travel Time: Chicago Or Bust

It's time to hit the road again. This time, both kids are joining me for my annual trek to Chicago for the CHSH tweetup. They'll get to meet quite a few of the people who appear on their dad's Fuck Cancer poster.

We'll also get to see some sights, eat great food, and hang out with friends. Can't beat that. I'm sure we'll come back with lots of great stories and pictures.

Oh, and the boyfriend remains awesome. In case you were wondering. I know some of you were.

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Read, Speak, Know: Banned Books Week 2009

This week is Banned Books Week. I'm rather fond of reading. My kids like books. They read around 140 novels last year between the two of them.


After a quick look at the list of frequently challenged and/or banned books, I was shocked not by how many I’d read, but by how many my children had read. So many of the books on the list are books I would consider children’s books.

You know, I do so love being told what I can and can't do. Wouldn't it be just grand if someone would decide which books were and were not appropriate for me and my children to read?

Yeah, um, NO. That's not going to fly in this house. My people came to this country so we could enjoy some basic freedoms. The books we read, the words on the pages (including this one), and the words that come out of our mouths are a BIG freedom we enjoy and plan on keeping.


Every year, more books are challenged. More books are banned. More words go unread. More authors undiscovered by new eyes. More voices silenced. Unacceptable.


Find out what you can do to fight the censorship. Yes, YOU. And you. I know you aren't wearing pants. None of us are. That's the beauty of the Internet. Just keep your webcam off for a minute (or don't, that's your business, really) and take some action on this before Big Brother knocks on your door and takes away your copy of Harry Potter. You think I'm joking? Harry makes the list All. The. Time.

My beloved Judy Blume has a truckload of books on the list. You all remember how damaging her works were for young readers. Don't even get me started on the classics. Oh, wait. Too late. To Kill a Mockingbird? On the list. Brave New World? On the list. As I Lay Dying (home to my favorite chapter of any chapter ever written, and I quote, "My mother is a fish.")? On the list. A Farewell to Arms? On the mother fucking list.

If you’re feeling particularly outraged, visit one of these PRO-censorship (yes, I said PRO) groups and let them know what you think of their efforts. Hey, I wonder if any of their members would be available to be our poster child/adult/pet for the Help Cure the Humorless cause. I bet they have a lot of potential candidates.

    * PABBIS: Parents Against Bad Books in Schools
    * ClassKS: Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools
    * Citizens for Academic Responsibility


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Are you there Califmom? It's me, Cleveland

One of the awesome things about having a blog is the blog stats. Oh, yeah. Blog stats are the little window into the minds of the people who drop by here to read the crazy shit I write. Most of y’all are average folk, reading my mind-dumps, looking for a laugh, keeping up with the crazy happenings at chez Califmom, or hunting for information on special needs kids or homeschooling. Howdy!

Occasionally, I get folks who find my blog searching for gems like “can I sell a used toilet?” (I don't want to know why you need to know this, dear reader, nor do I want to know why you'd want to know this.) or “Does Dave Matthews have Asperger’s?” (I don't know, you'd have to ask Dave Matthews.)

Other blog stats show me what readers search for once they arrive on my site.

Over the weekend, I had a reader from Cleveland who was hell bent on finding info on my site about vaginas and lesbians. This reader searched high and low. I’m not sure if this poor reader found the info he or she was looking to find, and this worries me.

Since this reader has come back again today, I'm going to do my best to provide some helpful links.

I haven’t spent a lot of time addressing gender identity here on my blog, and only minimal time on the love pita. I’ve posted an educational link to a video about the care and feeding of your vagina by the notorious Midwest Teen Sex Show. It’s a most awesome video. If you have a vagina, care for a vagina, or hope to one day care for a vagina, do take the time to watch the video. Maybe not at work, unless you have headphones, or a boss with a vagina who is particularly cool about her vagina.

And I’ve linked to one of my favorite songs about the vagina, My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide, by Storm Large. Again, best listened to loud, with other vagina connoisseurs. At minimum, you should have a cursory understanding of the word metaphor. If you don’t, click here.

But, I worry that maybe this reader was looking for more than I’ve covered here at Califmom. Maybe this reader was looking for advice. So, once again, I direct you, fair readers, to an expert. Jenny, The Bloggess, writes a wonderful column over at SexIs, and will answer your questions about anything sex-related. (She handles such sensitive issues as clown porn, tips for virgins, and unicorn sex.)

And, if you’re just looking for that vibrating bunny they gave away at BlogHer, you can order one for yourself. They aren’t that expensive. I have no idea how well they work, ‘cuz I actually gave mine away before I even left the lobby of the Sheraton. (Shh…don’t tell. You’ll totally ruin my reputation as a blogger who lets her children play with vibrators. I’m not that generous with my kids. Mama’s sex toys are not for children. Ain’t no freebies in my toy box. Knowing my kids, they’d have that shit strapped to the dog’s back, using it power his furry little butt around the pool, and that mutt can already swim.)

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