July Has Been Shitastic

I tend to be optimistic and positive. I have faith that everything works together for good. Even if we can't see it. Even if we never experience it. I imagine all the moments in our life like a rock hitting still waters and creating ripples. But I won't lie I am feeling weary.

I am not hopeless. I have not lost my faith. I still believe in the power of love and grace but I. Am. Weary.

My sister has a rare form of lung cancer. She has never done a bad thing in her life. Nothing to merit this or the diagnosis that comes with it. And it pisses me off. And while I believe that disease does not define us and that we can live fully this is not something I want her dealing with. I wanted more, so much more for her. I'll be honest – I wanted her to have it easy.

But that is life. Full of mystery and curve balls and unpredictable chapters.

One of my good friend's son died. And his death has not been the only one this summer. Death has been an ongoing theme for the last few weeks. Even the murder rate is up where I live. It is like a cosmic dumpster fire going on with a murder a day.

And I am off my game. My personal health is not great and there is no quick answers or fixes. I've gained weight, feel like shit, and unmotivated. My body hurts. I am in a totally different place than I was a year ago.

I know what to do. I know how to improve things. I just do not have the energy to do so. I have a list of things I need to do and another I want to do and they both feel insurmountable.

I would love to list all the good things going on in my life but they are marred by black clouds and unknowing. I told one of my best friends I needed a vacation from my life but what I really want to do is escape. Sometimes it is hard to choose joy, hard to be kind, and hard to show grace.

I'm so disappointed in people these days. The bigotry and racism and divisiveness. I trust so little of what people say and I question actions.I was raised with the belief that we would know people by their fruits and lately all I see is rot and immature growth. And that is a judgment. And it is also snobbery.

July cannot end fast enough. Not that I am looking forward to August but I know that the seasons will change and hopefully with it my soul will be renewed.

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The End of a Journey

I watched you grow up through the eyes of your mother.

At first it was just simple messages about your babyhood and milestones. Babies just days a part gave us a lot to compare for the next twenty years. Our ginger haired pale forces of nature.

Your mother, who became my friend, told her journey to motherhood, her journey to you and it gave other women hope. YOU gave them hope.

Everything you did under the sun your mother delighted in. She adored you. You were her miracle. She inhaled every part of who you were and it was unconditional. 

I watched you grow up through pictures. From toddlerhood to manhood. I delighted in my yearly Christmas Card and loved when social media boomed and I could watch you and your sister bloom under the watchful eye of your mother. Sometimes a picture does say a thousand words.

I was a stranger. An onlooker to your life but loved you from a far. I had hopes for you and prayed for you. I always thought that you would make your way down south so I could meet you face to face. To see the boy I had heard so much about, a son and a brother who was trying to find his way in this world.

I remember encouraging your mom to homeschool you and to let you be adventurous  even though it made her nervous. I loved hearing about your studies into alternative medicine and building furniture. I snickered to myself plenty of times when your mom would tell me the latest mischievous trouble you would get into. I loved that you challenged her. 

I will never forget your mother’s due diligence in bringing a sibling home to you. It seems like it was yesterday Lissa was born, and home. The two of you were made for each other as if Destiny willed it into being. I know from personal experience that she on her life journey will wonder what you would say, what you would do, and why did you have to go so soon. 

I regret not having met you or even shared a joint. I would have asked you about your adventures and told you about the Delta. And I would have asked you what led you to become a conservative. I may have harassed you a bit about all the hard times you gave your mom and caused her to worry. 

Your journey is over here . I hate that the world will never get to see the man we all knew you had the capability to become. You will be in my heart remembered as the ginger haired boy who stole his mother’s heart, who enjoyed the outdoors and daring adventure, and who pushed   Boundaries to discover who you were.

On the other side I hope you have found what you were looking for. I hope there is a peace to your restlessness. I hope you feel the love from all those who knew you. 

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Right-Wing Propaganda In A Public School Classroom

On Wednesday a concerned mother posted a picture of her son’s AP Government class summer reading list from Spanish Fort High School in a closed Facebook Group I belong too. The group is made up of the silent minority here on the Gulf Coast – liberals, progressives, and secularists that don’t fit into the southern conservative culture. As I read it it seemed almost like a hoax. Fake news. Surely, in one of the most affluent and educated areas here on the Gulf Coast this type of thing was not going on right under the nose of parents and administrators? How wrong I was.

I quickly verified that the teacher who gave out the list to his students did indeed teach at Spanish Fort High School and not only that the list was up on the schools website dating back to the 2014-2015 school year (it has since been removed). Not only did I find out that this teacher taught with a right-wing slant in his classroom but that he had previously run for public office and failed – mostly due to his extremist views on the federal government and state rights issues. There is also a blog but I will get to that later.


After asking for permission to share, several of us in the Facebook Group began to publicly share the list. I sent the list to other area Progressives, the ACLU, and I also posted it to Facebook but not before I sent it to my aunt whose daughter attends school there. Within hours it was soon discovered that Gene Ponder had been using this list for years without permission and without approval from the Baldwin County School Board or the principal of the school. That his class had been allegedly taught with a far right slant with religious and racist overtones for close to a decade. Keep in mind this is a AP Government High School course that students must take in order to receive their Honors Diploma.

And there in lies part of the problem. The class is required for students on the Honors Diploma track and Gene Ponder is the only AP Government teacher at Spanish Fort High School. It puts parents and students in a bind to complain about the content of his class for fear of retribution or being singled out. This is not a liberal “snowflake” issue, this is an education issue and having a non biased public education paid for by tax payers. The thing is, even conservative, Republican parents would find issue with some of the books and websites used for Mr. Ponder’s class. Yet again, it wasn’t until this ONE parent stepped forward that this problem was revealed.


What I find amusing is that I am constantly reading about how liberalism is taught in our schools and that school text books are liberal propaganda but that is just not the case, especially here in the South. And Gene Ponder is not alone, there are dozens upon dozens of public school teachers like him. Teachers who are manipulating and brainwashing our youth against climate change and with the beliefs of those like Alex Jones. Gene Ponder wasn’t trying to get his students to critically think about the governments role he was manipulating them to think that someone like Michael Savage and Ann Coulter are the great political thinkers of our time and that Global Warming is a liberal conspiracy. He wanted his students to think of Brietbart as an unbiased news source but not only that he surreptitiously included Christian religious beliefs and propaganda into his class as well.

You may be asking why I give two shits because we are homeschoolers. Well, for one my cousin attends this school as do several friends children. Friends, who are both conservative and liberal, who would oppose this reading list and the characterization of Republicans and Democrats put forth by Coach Ponder. I am also a tax payer. My tax dollars fund public education and pay Mr. Ponder’s salary. And trust me, we pay our fair share of state and federal taxes therefor I believe I get a say.

Mr. K was once a public school teacher. He taught Computer Science, Algebra, Geometry, and middle school math. He went in for seven years and taught the classes he was assigned. He taught the students theory and facts and did so without interjecting any political or religious beliefs. The same should go for science and history teachers as well. Discussions and exercises on critical thinking are one thing – manipulation and brainwashing are another. For nearly 165 hours of instruction time Gene Ponder had these students undivided attention, for a grade, and what you see on this list and what you see from the websites he has listed for his class, this is where he derived much of the views espoused in his classroom. These students were not being encouraged to read The Federalist Papers they were being encouraged to read Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder by Michael Savage. And to add icing on the cake one of his students posted two power points that they were shown and taught in class.


First and foremost these two lists presented in Gene Ponders class is not even factual. By 2016 the GOP was the party of less educated whites and lower income whites. While less educated voters leaned towards being Democrats in the 1990s it’s just no longer a fact now and that is evident by our latest election cycle. Even by 2008, education levels were more equal on both sides of the fence. Surprisingly enough one of the biggest complaints I have heard from Michael Savage, Alex Jones, and Laura Ingram is the criticism of educated elitism from Democrats. The truth is the majority of college educated voters voted for Clinton (52% Clinton, 29% Trump) Gene Ponder and his ilk can’t have it both ways. What is true is that over the past 16 years more and more college educated individuals have moved to the Democratic Party and there are a multitude of reasons for that and one is that the Republican base and party leaders are science deniers. It appears by the two power points presented in his class that Mr. Ponder was presenting these to create divisiveness rather than to promote critical thinking as to why certain groups lean toward certain political groups or ideology. He did get something right – it is white, Christian, heterosexual men who make up the GOP base but I doubt there was a critical overview as to why that is the case. After reading some of the comments of some of his former white, male students on Facebook it became clear that their was a air of white male superiority and is that what we want taught in ANY classroom.

I imagine Mr. Ponder is tenured and will retain his position but I think it is abundantly clear that teachers who perform certain duties and teach certain courses need additional vetting. Allowing a known Tea Party political extremist to teach history is probably not a good idea.  I imagine had this been a far left extremist expounding views in the classroom there would have been a huge outcry. There is a reason for separation of church and state and why we do not allow religious proselytizing and prayers in school. The same should go for politics and political beliefs. It is one thing to tell a student that you are a member of a certain party and another to espouse the views of Ann Coulter.

While writing this blog entry Gene Ponder removed his entire blog. Things that make you go hmmmm….

We as parents and citizens need to continue to resist even at personal risk for the betterment of the whole.

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Refusing To Believe What Is True

Last week my children participated in a History Fair with other local homeschoolers. I won’t lie, I chose the subject for each child’s project as I wanted it to pertain to what they had been studying this year in social studies but also to the here and now. I wanted their projects to make them think but also make others think as well.

Our oldest son, Dylan, has been studying World History this year. We have actually been using the Sonlight curriculum which is a lot of heavy reading and there are several books pertaining to past and current child slavery practices and missionary work that has taken place across the world. ( The secular version can be found on Bookshark) His topic to cover for the History Fair was Chocolate & Child Slavery Practices. I wanted him to think about where our food comes from, but especially the candy that is made because 5 year olds are working 12 hours a day for next to nothing. I felt it being close to Easter would lead people to think about the candy massively produced for what many celebrate as a religious holiday. Of course, as people passed his project some were shocked but many paid it no heed because in their world view having an enjoyable experience trumps that of children as young as five being forced into slavery.

My two youngest girls shared a project for the fair. Theirs was on Victory Gardens. I chose this subject for a multitude of reasons. For one, I live in the home my grandparents built and one of my fondest memories about this house was the large garden my grandfather kept for about half of my childhood but started way before I came into the picture. Along with the garden there were also pots of herbs, tomatoes and peppers around the back door. Secondly, I chose this topic because of the times we live in. We as a country need to get back to our roots of producing our own food or at least a portion of it. In times of famines, drought, and impending wars growing your own food is not only a skill we should all have but a necessity. This year we will be creating our own Victory Garden with our neighbors.

However it was Jack’s project where I definitely had an underlying agenda. Jack has been studying United States History this year ( we used a secular curriculum). It is a mixture of boredom but intrigue for him. What I believe stood out to him was the past and the now current corruption in politics and what has lead us into wars. It is no secret that I am raising pacifists and that a portion of our family time is spent on raising awareness on social justice issues. This lead to not just Jack, but all of our children (And more than half of Americans) wondering to themselves how someone like Donald Trump got elected to be our President. Jack is a child of few words. He is quiet but when he does voice his opinion he gets straight to the point and his project did just that.

Excuse my shitty photos – the camera is broke on my phone.

So the title of Jack’s project was “Would You Vote For Me” and the facts on his board surrounded a hidden picture of a famous leader. Some read it thinking it was someone current and nearly half of all those who read the facts about this person said they would have voted for them before seeing their picture. This man was charismatic and drew huge crowds, he loved Disney Movies and his favorite was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This famous leader lead the first anti-smoking campaign, was a vegetarian, and was Time’s Man of the Year. He was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In private, this man was introverted, loving his family and his pets. He fought for his country and as a leader supported and went to great measures to protect those in the military. And let me say that this man knew what it was like to grow up in poor conditions. He lived in homeless shelters and hostels for three years as a struggling artist. He took delight in simple pleasures like eating chocolate daily and he was a prolific writer. On the surface he sounds like a great person.

No matter how people answered the question “Would you vote for me?” they were indeed shocked when they peaked and saw that my son’s project was on Adolf Hitler. Under his picture it told how he was responsible for the genocide of 6 Million Jews and tens of millions of other people during his reign. This is a man who won the popular vote. Nearly 18 million people voted for him with an 88% voter turn out the year he was elected. On the surface Adolf Hitler was not a monster. He was actually generous and undoubtedly had good qualities but the truth is Adolf Hitler was a monster, one of the scariest of them all. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing that cared deeply about animals, was against big game hunting, and for ethical slaughtering practices but yet he sought to exterminate a whole race of human beings allowing them to be tormented, enslaved, and butchered for experimentation.

And if you think this project was aimed to force people to question voting for Donald Trump – you would be correct. The comparison is not how the men are alike (they are) but how they were perceived by voters and half the citizens in their countries.

People believe what they want to believe.

And that has been the problem with this last election cycle. Half of America bought into an illusion of a leader. Even though they were presented with repeated facts and evidence that Donald Trump was not fit to fill the role of President they still believed in him anyway. While he incited violence at his rallies, lied blatantly, and nearly 70% of what he said was untrue people still fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Now that it is shown that he and many  a part of his campaign and current administration colluded with Russia, have ties to white supremacy, lie and are incompetent for their positions there are still supporters. It is like they are blind to all the broken campaign promises, the blatant dishonesty, the unnecessary and excessive spending, nepotism, and his trigger happy small fingers next to the nuclear weapon button.

 Yet, as Trump tweets daily about “Fake News” he is one of it’s largest participants. He associated with far right publications that are not just one sided but post exaggerated and often false information (Drudge Report, Breitbart, Info Wars). He listens to men like Alex Jones, who believe demons are manifested in human beings and that their is a reptilian alien race pulling the Global strings. Alex Jones, who I have actually listened to for years, is a right-wing extremist who believes in countless conspiracy theories (some with merit, most without) and is famously known for saying the Sandy Hook Massacre was a false flag. And Mr. Jones gets on air and proclaims how truthful and honest he is. He screams, yells, tears at his clothes, calls out to Jesus, uses profanity and makes declarations about other news sources being fake. However this week Alex Jones in legal documents in a custody suit claims to be a “performing artist” that does “political satire“. Alex Jones claims he is fit to parent his children because he is nothing like the character he portrays on Info Wars. This MAN, this “character” is one our President listens too and seeks his news from. ( to note I don’t think either he or his ex-wife Kelly should have custody of the children, both are unstable human beings)

Yet people will refuse to believe. Even provide excuses.

The truth is is that Donald Trump says one thing and portrays his self as a knight in shining armor, all knowing and with all the answers. This is something he has in common with Adolf Hitler. People fell for the smoke and mirrors, bought into his patriotism, his claims that he would bring change and Make America Great Again. He played to an evangelical base as the more moral candidate even though he has a history that displays just the opposite. And yet, people still believed him.

Sadly, due to shame and stubbornness, many of those who chose to believe what they wanted to verses the truth will continue along the same path verses admitting they were wrong. And what will that cost us, the American people, and the human beings of this world? Only time will tell.

Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany for 11 years. In that time, he was responsible for the genocide of 6 Million Jews, 20 Million Civilians and Prisoners of War, and millions of others World Wide. Hitler rose to popularity and won the vote because many working class people were under employed or had no work at all, small businesses were failing, and people were suffering under the economy. Hitler claimed to have answers and appeared to be a savior to the German people. His slogan was “Freedom and Bread” and he promised to bring prosperity to Germany again. 

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You Don’t Say – Medication is bad for my child?

In line with some of my more recent posts on homeschooling and parenting I thought I would address the person who feels it is necessary to tell those of us with children who have special needs, learning disabilities, and mental health issues how to parent. It is their belief that their good mannered, sweet disposition child or children is the result of their parenting and life choices. Well I am here to tell you right now that if you think that having a neuro-typical child or one that doesn’t have learning disabilities is a result of your parenting choices then not only are you delusional but you may be an asshole. Or maybe you are a concerned aunt or grandparent and that a good spanking and better discipline will straighten the kid out and we are just looking to pigeon hold our child into a diagnosis.

If Only.

We have five children in this house who are all very different. For the most part we are fortunate to have healthy children. Physically healthy children. Not all our children were physically healthy in the beginning. One of our sons had developmental and speech delays and one of our daughters contracted whooping cough as an infant, then RSV and had damage done to her lungs and immune system. However they are both older and only get the common illnesses that other kids get.

One of our children is adopted. He is now a thriving teen but the early years were a living hell. We can look back now and laugh some and be thankful that we survived. We made a lot of mistakes. I personally carry guilt for a lot of things I did in trying to control an aggressive, violent child. We all have emotional and physical scars from about a six year period. Luckily we got help because we no longer could handle things on our own. We appreciate all the friends in our lives who stepped up to the plate to offer us respite, even when they didn’t get it but saw that we were drowning. It took a village and we are grateful.

And then there were those who thought that their superior parenting or magic cures would solve our sons issues. I can honestly say that I tried it all out of desperation.  I can say to the people who said to spank him – it didn’t work. It actually made things worse. Punishment did not work. Not even negative consequences worked. In fact it just caused more despair and frustration on our part and made our child feel inadequate and unloved. To outsiders I am sure that we eventually looked like pushovers and passive parents when in actuality we were doing exactly what our family therapists (plural) advised us to do.

We also put our son on medication. He has been on medication since age 4. I can tell you about all the side effects, the blood draws, the journal entries, and how long it took to find the right fit for our son. I can tell you I wasn’t comfortable with it. That I cried. That we cried. That I questioned it every single time he took his medicine. That I prayed there was a better way and there would be some magic pill to solve it all.

There wasn’t.

With in our four walls was a war zone. Broken furniture and holes in the walls and the other children hiding or locking themselves in their rooms out of fear. Our lives were a roller coaster that never stopped cue concerned individuals who thought we were doing something wrong…

Did you change his diet? It is probably food allergies. I bet its gluten. 

I won’t dismiss that food is the best medicine. I believe in gut health and I believe in the brain gut connection. All of that is scientifically proven. I actually have problems eating wheat and it makes me feel like shit. I also have food allergies that mess with my speech, impact the way I write, and cause me to be disoriented. But I am here to tell you we didn’t put our son on anti-convulsion and anti-psychotic meds as our first line of defense. Sugar, red dye, yellow dye, blue dye, and grains did not make him being an aggressive, violent, and hallucinating five year old. If only it was that easy.

You should see a chiropractor, use essential oils, and feed him super foods. 

This sounds like reasonable advice. I am sure people mean well – or do they? Or is it really a judgment on how you parent and the choices you have made. If I thought some essential oils on the bottom of my child’s foot would have prevented him from putting holes in the wall or walking on the roof in the middle of the night or would cure night terrors I would have totally done it. But just think about how ridiculous that sounds. And while I personally use essential oils for a variety of issues as a first line of defense, I do not treat my anxiety and PTSD with essential oils. I take medication and go to therapy. Anyone who tells you they have cured their mental illness or their child’s mental illness or autism with essential oils is lying. (hate mail can be sent to beautifulwreck2 at gmail)

And as I have said, I believe in the power of food and the gut brain connection. I think for some children and adults eating a shitty diet it can impact their behavior and moods. I don’t believe it is wise or safe to eat franken foods for our overall health but do I think eliminating Little Debbies and Doritos from my kids diet will solve our problems. Well, I did eliminate them and guess what – the child was eating an organic, whole foods diet without grains, dyes, or sugars and NOTHING CHANGED.

There is this assumption that if you have a young child with behavioral problems or mental illness it is somehow the parents fault. If only it was that simple. Bless. Do you not think the majority of parents with children with these kind of issues haven’t tried, researched, and discussed these things? Are you assuming we are uninformed or stupid? Some of us even took parenting class or got training as foster to adopt parents. We spend our time connecting to other parents in person and on the internet, we speak to not only our physicians, but all the parents I know with children who have mental health issues or a child on the autism spectrum has done more research than the FBI.

You just aren’t tough enough.

The fact that someone had the audacity to say this to ME is almost laughable, but I have heard it plenty in connection to all of my children. While I am much more laid back mother than I used to be, I have always had high expectations for my children – no matter what was going on with them. Do some of them have legitimate excuses when they are acting like assholes? Yes, but we don’t let that define who they are. And it surely is not a reflection on my toughness as a parent. (If my kids are reading this they may be laughing at the idea people think I am a permissive and passive parent) The goal of my parenting is not to put a band aid on inappropriate behavior but to get to the root of it. Sometimes the root of the problem involves changing the guidelines and structure of our life, therapy, and medication adjustments. (sometimes for them, sometimes for me)

Having children with learning disabilities and mental health issues has taught me to be flexible and we need to think about how we approach parents who are living this day to day. They are in the trenches trying to make decisions for their child and are not just looking for the easiest way out by turning to medication. Often times before we ever reached the decision to put our children on medication we had already exhausted a lot of other methods to help our child. We are not stupid, we are not passive, and we are not lazy. Please think before suggesting that what we are doing for our children is wrong.

 

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Inexperienced Mothers Shut Your Wine Hole

Ten or fifteen years ago I would read just the title of this post and get pissed and offended. Now I am “that” woman. I am the mother in her 40s with over 20 years of parenting experience and five children and I now “get it”. When you have your first child you don’t know shit you just think you do. You have the books, you belong to Mommy Groups and Due Date Clubs, and you have all these ideas about what you as a parent will and will not do. You may even have a degree in early childhood education or sociology and believe that parenting is as cookie cutter as the text book promises. Bless. I’ve so been there.

I will say that I surely do not know it all. Parenting is a journey and each child brings its own challenges and rewards not to mention learning curve. I’ve often said that had Mr. K and I had stopped with our oldest, Elizabeth, I would believe I was a perfect parent. For the most part she was easy to raise. She is now in college, pre-med, excellent student, has shown good judgement, and over all a pretty fantastic human being. Not that the other kids aren’t fabulous but the ones that have followed have added a long list of challenges and definitely parenting outside the box.

I was pretty sure that I knew it all those first five years. I had probably read a few dozen parenting books, belonged to several online mommy groups, had a subscription to Parents and Mothering, and was full of condemnation for those that were doing it wrong. You know, the mothers not doing it like me. But then we decided to grow our family and I was in for a rude awakening. Everything that worked with the easy, typical child absolutely did not work with our second. I was lost and a bit crazy for the months and years ahead adding a third child. Then a fourth. And then a fifth because hell, what’s one more! And it was child number four I realized that there was really no one right way to do things. Parenting was not a one size fit all, cookie cutter venture. By baby number five I realized I had wasted a lot of energy and angst the past decade over bed time, potty training, food, and a host of other issues.

There seems to be a theme among inexperienced mothers that I not only witnessed but was a part of and that was the illusion of being in control. Read that again. Try to control everything with your child and thinking if you do XYZ will make your parenting/child/life easier will just cause you frustration, copious amounts of wine drinking, and binge eating the toddler snacks while you hide in the closet wondering where you went wrong. I know mainstream media and a few crazy “experts” claim that you can continue to be  self centered adult and that children are just accessories you can add to your life that will just compliment you but I am here to tell you – THAT IS BULL SHIT. Being a parent is no longer about you, it is about the WHOLE, and when the children are little it really is all about them. And I will say if you can’t wrap your mind around this just don’t have kids. Get a dog. Or better yet a fish. Because I have dogs and they are pretty needy sumbitches.

Does the above paragraph mean you have no life? NOPE. What it does mean is that your life will be altered. The glass coffee table will need to be put away until the kids are ten and maybe not even then. You will likely have very few opportunities to pee or take a shower alone. There will be sleepless nights. Your schedule will not be their schedule. In fact your schedule – when you eat, go to the gym, have sex, visit with friends – no longer is yours in the early years and as I am now experiencing, the teen years either. Get the notions of how you dreamed it would be or how it should be out of your head. And once you have kids it will impact your marriage too. It will either change for better or for worse, or if you have a bunch of kids all at once it turns into just trying to fucking survive with some sanity in tack.

But let’s just imagine for a moment parenting for you has been smooth sailing. You have darling little cherubs. Not only are they the smartest and most beautiful, talented kids on the planet but they slept through the night, were easy to potty train, are not picky eaters, and were developmentally advanced. Bless your heart, you probably believe that has something to do with your parenting or your college degree. ::: cue laughter ::: Actually no, it has nothing to do with that at all. You got lucky. Your superiority and smugness at how well your YOUNG children have turned out has really very little to do with your parenting methods, set schedules, and control issues. When they are adults we will talk.

And if you are reading this and thinking “Is this post about me?” Probably.

So here is me pulling my crone card out (I’ve been waiting awhile to say that) and I am pretty sure it says on the back “bitch”.

Kudos to all my friends having babies in their late 30s and 40s. While some were planned I know a good many were surprises. In the last few years I have had so many friends having their 3rd, 4th, and 5th babies after most their children are half grown I can’t even count. I really can’t imagine starting over at this point. I’m seriously thankful for those last little stair steps (and a hysterectomy) because I imagine that if I was to have a baby at this stage of my life I would essentially allow it to be feral. Teenagers and toddlers – lawd have mercy just thinking about it makes me want to hide in the laundry room, drink moonshine and eat all the things. The thing I have noticed though as my friends enter the toddler and young child years again is the judgement, advice, and even admonishment of their parenting by inexperienced, and often much younger mothers.

Bless their hearts.

If your oldest child is less than ten years old and you can count on one hand the last time you had to wipe a butt,  mothers of multiple children or those having “second” families after already raising children to be self sufficient teens or adults DO NOT NEED YOUR ADVICE, OPINION, or JUDGEMENT. Just keep that shit to yourself. I will also add do not be offering your “professional” or “educated” opinion to parents raising special needs children when you have neuro typical kids. (and there is another post coming on this) You are not doing these mothers, or fathers, any favors. In fact if you get a smile and a pat answer from them or “I’ll keep that in mind” they are really dismissing you and likely think you are being a jerk.

Older mothers who have had more than three children do not want your potty training advice, do not want to hear about making their toddler “independent”, why their child should no longer have a bottle or a pacifier, nor do they want to hear anything else for that matter while they let that fourth or fifth child run barefoot, half naked, and eating something off the ground. Why you might ask? Because in the big scheme of  things – THESE THINGS DO NOT FUCKING MATTER. Once you surpass three children you begin to realize that not only is every child different but that they will be okay should you not follow What To Expect or Toddler Wise. In fact, most of us know that the pages of those how to parenting guides are not developmentally appropriate, often just make us frustrated and feeling inadequate, and better served as kindle for fire or wiping your ass.

I think if I hear one more mother of one or two children lend potty training advice to a mom of many I may lose my shit. In the last six months I have witnessed this very scenario. Two is not a magic number for toilet training. Child development is a spectrum. When you are reading a text book it is based on an average not the whole. This is why I find it to be ridiculous that day cares, mom’s day out programs and preschools require children to be potty trained before attending. For one “babies” of families often potty train later, as do boys, especially if they are the youngest of many. And even though pediatricians and science tell us not to force children to use toilets we still have this dated advice and expectations. And we can apply this to just about anything – pacifiers, breastfeeding, bottles, and bedtimes. And if this is not clear enough for some reading this – it is not your business. So just keep your judgement to your self and your unsolicited opinion.

And here is something I can tell you – they eventually use the toilet and stop wetting the bed. I’ve yet to meet an older child breastfeeding or sucking a bottle. They do sleep. Eventually. In fact when they are pre-teens and teenagers hitting puberty you will wonder if they do anything else in their spare time. They do learn to wipe their own butts, learn to read, no longer want to be in your bed, and have manners. 

AND I have some ASSVICE for you – THEY ARE ONLY LITTLE ONCE.

Babyhood, Toddlerhood, and Childhood is a brief part of all our lives. Some of us got a clue by the third plus kid or we realize it when they are teenagers and we understand that some things didn’t serve our children or our family. It can be a much more rewarding and enjoyable experience when you can laugh at yourself and not take the really benign things all that seriously. Experienced mothers know this. And while some of you inexperienced mothers may think we are doing it wrong – well, we have time, experience, and patience to show you we were right. So just chill the fuck out, drink some wine, and burn the parenting books.

 

 

Posted in Parenting, Social Issues, This Might Be About You, Uncategorized, Women's Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Peasy Ways To Ruin Your Homeschool Co Op or Group

It is hard to believe that I have been homeschooling now for more than a decade. It has been a journey full of life lessons on discipline,  leadership, and communication. I can easily say I fall into the “been there done that” crowd when it comes to mistakes and pitfalls and I have had to learn to put kindness above tact in many situations. I have said often that homeschooling my children has taught me more than I have or will ever teach them.

Now I am an “old timer”. I’ve been doing this more than half my parenting years. Not only that, I have graduated out one child out of our homeschool who is now in college and in another year I will have another homeschool graduate. I am full of wisdom and assvice (often unsolicited advice) to fellow homeschooling parents and potential families thinking of this option. Sometimes I over share because I don’t want someone to experience the drama or problems I either have seen, been a participant in, or suffered from. And this is what this post is about.

Run Your Homeschool Co Op Like Traditional School

Homeschoolers are rebellious by nature. We already are going against what is traditionally expected of us by not sending our children to private or public schools. Often it is micromanagement, overly testing, tons of homework, and rules that land  parents in the school office withdrawing their child from school so it is probably not a good idea to set up a homeschool co op that simulates a school classroom experience.

A Homeschool Co Ops primary focus for elementary age children should be about socialization. Some of you reading this need to read that again. Let me be blunt – the primary focus of a homeschool co op until age 12 should be about SOCIALIZATION and not subject learning or discipline. And let me also say the socialization is not just for the children but for the mothers and fathers as well. Learning about a specific subject and gathering knowledge is the whip cream to the sundae and the cherry on top is the communication skills and self discipline with parental guidance children earn.

If your co op is not fun, if you dread those mornings you have to go, if you are praying that one of your children runs a fever or has green snot just to avoid showing up you may be in a situation where the focus is not really about what is good for the whole but the ideals of a few.  You should not be relying on homeschool co op for elementary age students to fulfill one of the core subjects that should be taught at home. It should be a supplement, a bonus, something extra and it should be fun and engaging.

If you are a leader and reading this and thinking “Damn, I’ve always got families doing this and its hard to find volunteers” it may have less to do with them being lazy and not wanting to put in their fair share and more about not wanting to be micromanaged and having to follow a bunch of rules about how to do a particular job. I’ve found with children and adults that if you make it fun and interesting and involve them in doing something they enjoy it makes the whole entire experience worth while.

As for discipline – co ops should be about learning to communicate, developing manners, and developing healthy relationships which can be achieved without a bunch of rules. This can happen with all kinds of children no matter where they are at on the developmental curve. They do not have to be policed and their behavior does not have to be micromanaged. Their are going to be kids who are hyper and can’t sit still and kids that hide behind hair or slouch in their seats as to not to be noticed. This isn’t a time to make a judgement, this is the time to engage these children in personal ways that build their self esteem. When there are serious discipline issues – they should be addressed but they should be done so with grace and love especially if they are not your child.

Be A Dictator And Judgmental 

Age and experience has made me more flexible when it comes to nearly everything in my life but especially when it comes to parenting and homeschooling. Luckily those very early years I was just fumbling with figuring this whole homeschool thing out with five young children and was not in a leadership position until my youngest was two and even then I was green. I lacked focus and self discipline but one of the things I struggled with (and sometimes still do but these children are still teaching me) is judging other people’s journeys.

Experience is the greatest teacher. Failing and making mistakes in your journey provide you with the best lessons. Owning your mistakes and being open to suggestions has benefited me and has led me to be a better parent, a better human being. Sometimes this required me to make personal changes and realize I was doing it wrong. Flexibility without being a flake is key when leading any group. And when leaders of co ops or homeschool groups turn to other parents for support or help they need to choose parents that exemplify certain characteristics but also the experience and enthusiasm to lead.

A sure fire way to run people off from a co op or group is to let someone get involved in leadership who is going to be judgmental of other people’s parenting styles or homeschool. I used to think it was religion and politics that divided homeschoolers and while it does I have found that judging others on how they parent or how their kids are educated is an even bigger divider. Families in a homeschool co op or group shouldn’t be burdened about what the collective you thinks is a “proper education”. Most of those who homeschool do so for a multiple of reasons and often education is not the first reason on the list. What works for your child, may not work for someone else. If you can’t make peace with how other people choose to do what they feel is best for their children leadership is NOT for you.

I admit there have taught kids that got on my nerves due to certain behavior issues or quirks. When I gave it time and saw why they behaved a certain way I found them to be endearing and often learned that they had exceptional qualities that I enjoyed being around. Children will be the first to point out a fake and they recognize insincerity faster than most adults. They know when an adult is judging them and if someone is truly invested in them. If you want to run a co op or a group be sure you can come to it with love and passion for children and not with a mission of molding children in what you think they should be.

And now I am going to get to the heart of one of the biggest issues I have seen destroy many homeschool co ops and groups and that is being a dictator. Co Ops and groups need leaders with passion and enthusiasm and people with a strong countenance to withstanding bullshit but this doesn’t mean you get to be the boss over a bunch of other parents and their children. Co Ops and Groups are about the “whole” not a few. It is about servicing a community, not an individual. Control freaks need not apply for leadership positions and shouldn’t be asked too. Micromanaging causes discord and resentment. Policing grown adults on their duties and responsibilities will not only lead to leadership fatigue but it also makes people not like you. And as a leader in this capacity you need to be trusted and yes, liked.

Be A Tattle Tell 

I have belonged to several co ops over the years and the most effectively run one I have attended has very little policing. I have gone to the organizer of the co op over multiple issues and sought her counsel and the first year I was a participating family I realized how she effectively handled conflict and communication. If you had  concerns you were to direct it to the person before bringing it to her. Whether it be a teacher or another parent you were to seek out that person privately and discuss it. This is not a novel concept and one I wish other co ops and groups would catch up on.

One of my huge issues recently was “people” or “other parents” had complaints about me or one of my children yet they never came to me personally. While I do have a strong personality, I believe I am open minded and know my children are not angels. Also, I know that I am full of flaws with tons of improvements to be made. However in a group situation it makes people feel suspicious and untrusting of others when it is made out to be multiple complaints. Who wants to be in that kind of environment?

Some issues may not need to be brought directly to an individual and be brought to a leader or teacher instead for it to be worked out. But hear is the truth – most people do not bite. With some tact and kindness approach the person it needs to be directed to first rather than tattle telling to a co op director or group leader. When you tattle all you are doing is breeding discord and mistrust.

Totally Ask Those Who Lack Experience To Teach or Lead

I’ve been parenting for over two decades now and have successfully taught co op classes, been a 4H Leader, hosted multiple science and nature camps for children, successfully ran a family outdoor group, and have even taught VBS. I’ve planned more field trips, parties, and homeschooling events then I can count and I happily tell you that I am now just a participant. I will give people money and help in a multitude of ways but I admit, I got burn out but frankly I am considering getting back into the fray of it all because some people lack the experience to lead and it is HURTING the homeschooling community.

I love seeing a new homeschool parent on the scene who is eager to jump right in and plan a field trip, teach a class, or plan a party and I think they should more than have the opportunity but before given a leadership position in a community they need more than a few years under their belt. People need to demonstrate their character and prove themselves to have integrity and trustworthy. It is easy to hand off the reigns to someone who is eager when you are tired and burned out but when people who are not well vetted in the community are handed power they often hurt families and the community as a whole. I have seen this happen time and time again and often times the really eager beaver wanting to help often has ulterior motives that involve control.

Also, I can tell you as a mom of many and a mom in her 40s it does not beseech you to place young mothers with little homeschooling experience (or parenting) in leadership positions. For one, they just don’t know. Bless their hearts. Seriously though, these moms who are still getting carded to buy their wine do not need to be telling other parents who are older and been doing it longer how to homeschool or hand out parenting advice. If the child they are homeschooling hasn’t been that long out of diapers they have no business to be placed in any kind of authority. Nothing breeds resentment like having someone who thinks they have it all figured out telling a mother who is on her fourth or fifth child that she isn’t doing it right or that “if only” they did XYZ there wouldn’t be this issue.

Homeschooling social issues can be complicated. I believe they don’t have to be. I have the privilege of being a part of some pretty incredible homeschool groups run by some fantastic parents. I belong to a co op for middle school and high school age children that has worked well for my family. However with the sweet there is often the bitter and we need to ask ourselves and each other what we can do to best improve our communities and prevent good things from going sourer.

 

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting, This Might Be About You, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pussy Makes The World Go Around

Yesterday the #GOP sat with Donald Trump to discuss healthcare. One of the main things they discussed was Women’s healthcare issues. Not ONE woman was there. All men. All wealthy men. These men did not feel mammograms should be covered by insurance because as one stated “I don’t have breasts”. Another that sat at the table doesn’t think maternity should be covered not everyone has children. Another said older men shouldn’t have to pay for it because wait for it, they are no longer having children. Donald Trump’s youngest child was born when he was 59. He was not the only man at that table on his 2nd or 3rd marriage to a younger woman who had started a second or third family. Yesterday while all this was going on a poll came out that men had taken that indicated that 52% of them had not benefited from contraception coverage under “ObamaCare”.
Now, this is where this post will no longer be suitable for work. This will also be where I become a “nasty” woman.
Pussy is what makes the world go around. When you wonder why women march here is some of the many reasons. While you sit there and feel all smug and equal and think that women have a fair shot if they just do XYZ when men just have to be born you have missed the point. When you say you are not a feminist because you feel you have never been sexually harassed in the work place and women who have deserved it or that you don’t hate men I want you to think about why in 2017 we have to continue to fight for equal pay, paid maternity leave, insurance coverage, access to affordable birth control, safe and legal abortion, cancer coverage, and well care coverage for the children we birth. When politicians and judges allow rapist to go free because boys will be boys and place blame on women because of how they dress or where they go at night. When you have a President who thinks he can force advances on women and grab them by the pussy – that is why we March.
While these men, who claim to get no benefit from having to “pay” for women’s healthcare coverage I say this – Whether gay or straight you came from a womb. You have a direct relationship to PUSSY in this world and you should care. Whether born from it or fucking it it should matter. Your mothers, wives, and daughters should matter. You may not have breasts but you either sucked on them after birth or sucked on them later. You disgusting, privileged men will by your mistresses fake fucking titties but you have a problem paying for mammograms? Give me a fucking break.
Am I angry – YES! Because I shouldn’t have to fight for mammogram coverage and breast reconstruction surgeries in 2017. I shouldn’t have to fight for CANCER screenings and pap smears because some old white man who thinks because he doesn’t have a vagina shouldn’t have to contribute. I shouldn’t have to fight for accessible, affordable birth control when WE as entire country benefit from family planning, reduction of teen pregnancy, reduction of unwanted pregnancy, etc etc etc. I shouldn’t have to fight for maternity care coverage and well baby coverage to be covered by insurance with the abundance of wealth we have in this country.
Maybe you really think these women’s issues do not apply to you. Maybe you think that because you have a penis or that you are a woman who feel that fighting for these rights means you are a man hater I have some more to say – WOMEN make the world go around. I absolutely believe we bring more to the table than men. There I said it. Are you happy now? Without pussies and breasts where in the hell would the rest of the planet be? The next time you ask and wonder why large bodies of “nasty” women march and wear pussy hats – THIS IS WHY. Because while you may not think that it applies to you, just remember that you came from pussy and probably at the end of your God forsaken life you will be cared for by someone with a pussy. The next time you as a woman get a mammogram or a cancer screening that doesn’t cost you several pay checks remember this is why NASTY WOMEN MARCHED. When you are able to get cancer treatment for ovarian, uterine or breast cancer remember that some OLD, WHITE, REPUBLICAN wanted to take that away from you.
It literally costs pennies from each and everyone of us to cover women’s healthcare issues and affordable birth control. PENNIES. Loose change you could find in your car each month. Maybe you as individual will never need it but someone you love will. Pussy makes the world go around, nasty women get things done, and if we all disappeared what would happen then?

Posted in Politics, Social Issues, This Might Be About You, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Prerequisites Before Getting Married

It is hard to believe that I have been married for nearly 24 years. I’m not the easiest person to have a romantic relationship with. I’m demanding, bossy, and have fixated ideas on how things should be done. I set the bar pretty high when I got married and I fully intended on having a working partnership til death do us part. However we have been through three rounds of marriage counseling on this journey.

The first time we went to marriage counseling probably could have been avoided had we gone to premarital counseling. And I don’t mean those few sessions you go with your spiritual adviser or pastor before they will marry you. When I say premarital counseling I am talking about digging deep and asking the hard questions like:

Which way does the toilet paper go?

What side of the bed do you sleep on? cold nature or hot nature? covers or no covers?

How good are you with money? spender? saver?

Do you do dishes? take out the trash? mop? windows?

Before you get married you may not think these are all that important, especially if you are not living together at first or it is a short whirl wind engagement like mine and Mr. K’s. The truth is these are important questions because these will be the very questions that create your biggest arguments and cause hurt feelings. When Mr. K and I married he had no idea there was a wrong way to make a bed or fold towels but he wasn’t the daughter of a Marine. I surely didn’t expect dirty socks and underwear under the bed and dirty clothes to be tossed behind the bathroom door. After all these years of marriage I can look back and see these things as trivial compared to what we faced as loved ones died, children were born, and dealing with the curve balls life throws at you however it is these small trivial things that point out the flaws in our character.

So here is my assvice for couples considering getting married – get comprehensive premarital counseling. Discuss conflict resolution and how conflict was handled in your individual families. Talk about money, how the money will be managed, and who will be paying the bills. Children. Not just if you want them or not but if one of you will be staying at home, how they will be disciplined and educated. Address household chores and responsibilities. Don’t just assume that it will be 50/50 especially if your marry someone who doesn’t know how to cook or know the first thing about how to do laundry or who may have never sweated in the heat of summer doing yard work. These are the things that may make or break those first few years of marriage.

Additionally I suggest doing multiple things together that may seem outside the realm of your dating life and romantic moments. The first year of marriage is often full of great sex and discovering new things about each other, especially if you did not live together before hand. At the same time it is also about letting your guard down and being comfortable enough with another person that your character and soul are completely exposed, the light and the dark sides of it. And while some of these tasks I am about to suggest may be funny they also expose that nature of who someone is and you may decided you don’t like who that person is.

  • Go on a 3-5 mile round trip hike in your state. If I was ever in a position to date again after the initial first date or two I would suggest going on an outdoor adventure to see if the relationship needed to go further. Hiking, canoeing or kayaking will tell you a lot about another person. Hiking will show you how prepared someone is for a half day to day adventure out in the elements. Will they talk the entire time? Will there be moments of silence? Will they just be focused on getting to the end? Will they want to pause along the way and breathe in their surroundings? And kayaking and canoeing exposes even more. Canoeing takes two people working together to get where they are going. It involves communicating and working in-sic. With a tandem kayak it doesn’t necessarily take two to get where you are going but it may show someone if the other person is willing to participate in getting them there. Not too long ago Mr. K and I went kayaking and came across two couples in tandem kayaks. One couple  worked together paddling and when stopped they passed each other drinks and snacks and laughed. The other couple the girl literally did nothing. She was strictly a passenger, who was drinking wine coolers and playing on her phone, while the guy in the seat behind her was doing all the work. She wasn’t engaged at all – in him or the abundance of nature she was surrounded by.
  • It may not be Christmas time when you decide to say I do but I highly recommend putting lights on a Christmas tree together using multiple strands and making sure every single one works. You might laugh and say you will just buy the pre-lit tree but there will be a time in your marriage when you do something that is as ridiculous and tedious as this activity. Nothing brings out the worst then putting lights on a Christmas tree properly. Do you start at the top or the bottom? Do you just throw them up there or do you go branch by branch? It is during this activity you will discover the patience of your partner.
  • Build something together or do a major household project. Maybe you don’t have a home yet, offer to do one for the future in laws but if that is not possible I am going to suggest building a piece of furniture together or going to IKEA and buying a piece of furniture that says assembly required. Nothing demonstrates character more than watching how someone handles frustration and how they deal with people around them, whether in conflict or not.
  • Take a road trip together. This was not one I had thought of before but a friend suggested it on my Facebook page and the more I thought about it the more I realized this should be included. Someone even said taking said road trip without the modern convenience of GPS. Mr. K and I have taken several road trips together. Luckily we have similar ideas about our adventures. We eat local when we travel. We take the back roads. We stop and visit weird and quaint places and love every minute of it but this is not for everyone. That being said he doesn’t take directions well. I hate getting lost. Traffic jams and road construction stress me out. We have had more arguments in the car about how to get from point A to B then we have had about parenting. If it wasn’t for the sex and the food we might would have killed each other. If you can’t take a road trip together or a vacation then just don’t get married because life is full of bumps in the road and unexpected detours.

Marriage is hard but doing it with the right partner is rewarding. It is not about 50/50 but about two people each giving it 100 percent and doing their absolute best even when one of you may be at your absolute worst.

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5 Ways You Have Exposed Your Bigotry On Facebook

For all intense and purposes your Facebook page looks generic compared to some people on your Friend List. You tend to post happy family photographs, funny cat pictures, and the occasional status that is non-controversial and probably related to something you ate. For good measure you may post something uplifting and spiritual every now and then because you’re a nice person after all. Or you at least want people to think that.

Then people begin to unfriend you on Facebook without provocation. They even may become distant when they see you in person. Worse yet, you realize you have been BLOCKED by people you considered friends. Your favorite cousin is no longer in your Newsfeed and your invitation to your neighbors annual BBQ got lost somewhere in cyber space. You are bewildered as to why because you are not controversial in the least. Well, wonder no more because I am going to share with you five ways you have exposed to everyone that you are a closeted asshole.

  1. The Comments On Public Pages  Your social media looks like an explosion of happiness and positive energy. You’ve worked hard at keeping things as bland as possible with pictures of cute kids and animals. Everything you post is through a filter of not offending anyone. But then you go to your local News Media page on Facebook and decide to add your 2 cents to the comment section on what you feel is a cut and dry issue. Surely everyone knows that boys should not use the girls restroom at school and gender identity is a lie of the devil. You decided to post that you do not want men in the restroom with your daughter even though that “man” has double D breasts and looks better in a dress than you do. You then go to list a host of nonfactual reasons and religious bias to back up your feelings on the subject but what you don’t realize is that your comment is now being seen by all your friends in their Newsfeed. Whether is is about politics, police brutality, or a businesses refusing to serve someone based on their sexual orientation everyone now knows you are not only intolerant of others but that it is rooted in alternative facts and that you use Jesus to hide behind it.
  2. Liked Pages I continue to be surprised that people do not realize that the entire social media world can see the pages you “like”. You probably do not mind that people can see that your favorite college football team is Alabama or that you “liked” a page of a sick person in your church that needs help. What you may not realize is that they also see that you read alt-right news media and fan over Milo Yiannopolous. Your friends can see that you have liked pages that have neo-nazi roots, degrade women, the disabled, and people of other faiths. What you thought was hidden and would never mention around your friends of color or while you are working with LGBTQ individuals they can now see as plain as the hand in front of them.
  3. Comments On Your Friends’ Pages That are Public Or Friends of Friends Not all posts on Facebook have the same privacy settings. You may have your posts set to friends only or a select group of people but others may have theirs geared toward a public audience. If the post isn’t set to be open for the world to see it may be set so that friends of friends can see and read their posts. You may not have realized this when you decided to comment on your Uncle’s post about how Trayvon Martin deserved to be shot and that you agreed to be seen by the black couple that sits on the same pew as you at church. That discussion you got into about the ills of gay marriage on your girlfriend’s post you may not have wanted your gay cousin to read or the gay hairdresser that does your hair on a regular basis. Your comments calling political opponents names and making fun of them you may not have intended for your best friend to see that is different than you.
  4. “Liking” Posts On Your Friends Pages You think this is benign behavior. You don’t understand that it could be revealing the heart of who you are. You may not engage in controversial discussion and are careful about publicly liking any page that is not your favorite eatery or a movie you recently saw. You feel like you have this privacy thing on Facebook managed pretty well. Smart phone in hand scrolling through your feed you find this meme funny that references a lynching of Obama so you press the thumbs up button. You and the person who posted it are like minded individuals who “get each other” but you had no idea that your friend who is married to a black man and has biracial children saw what you did. The thing is when you like offensive memes on Facebook or those that demean others based on sexuality, race or religion they are  micro-aggressions.
  5. Groups You may not realize that the Group you just joined is visible to the public. You may believe your membership is hidden or that posts inside the group cannot be seen. Many groups these days are “Closed” but this only means that those outside the group cannot see what is posted inside. Membership is still visible to the public and your friends may be able to see what groups you are in – Public and Closed and even advertised to them in a way to garner more membership. Whether it be the local Swingers Club, the Neighborhood Watch, or the Alt-Right Homeschool Group you just joined, unless it is set to “Secret” your friends can see what groups you belong too.

So the next time you wonder why someone you were friends with, either in real life or on Facebook, unfriended you it is doubtful that it was about your political beliefs and more about showing your true character if you are guilty of any of the above.

Posted in LGBTQ, Politics, Social Issues, Social Media, This Might Be About You | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment