A renaissance gal passionista and her amazing family.

Archive for July, 2011

Shout Out – Massage Works

Alright  – I had a massage today, which is a luxury I don’t get  often (read: about once a year).

Today – thanks to a Groupon deal – I visited Massage Works in Creve Coeur. Travis was my therapist.


I would love to see more ambiance, but the massage was INCREDIBLE!

I want to go every week


Anyhoo… thought I’d pass it on at least to visit Travis.

First time customers get a 1 hour massage for $35 – that’s an insane deal! After your first incredible visit they offer a Monthly Wellness Program to save you the $$ (no contract, cancel any month if you can’t make it)

Option 1: $30, One 30 Minute Massage

  • $25 each additional 30 minute massage per month
  • Only $50 for 60 minute massage
  • Purchase gift certificates at reduced rates
Option 2: $50, One 60 Minute Massage
  • $45 each additional 60 minute massage per month
  • Only $30 for 30 minute massage
  • Purchase gift certificates at reduced rates
Option 3: $90, Two 60 Minute Massages
  • $45 each additional 60 minute massage per month
  • Only $30 for 30 minute massage
  • Purchase gift certificates at reduced rates

I HIGHLY recommend it – at least go see Travis for the first $35 massage 🙂 (they have other therapists, but Travis did wonders for me today – so I’m biased)

Massage Works
Travis Hoisinton, L.M.T
13035 Olive Blvd, Suite
218Creve Coeur, MO63141

Giveaway! Two Winners! Computer Programming Courses for Kids and Teens

Over at Freely Educate there is a FABULOUS giveaway!

Homeschool Programming, Inc want to give a full curriculum to two Freely Educate readers!

We teach Windows and Game Programming to students who like computers! You don’t need a big computer lab to provide quality computer science education for your student.

Don’t delay… head over to Freely Educate for your chance to win a full curriculum from Homeschool Programming, Inc!

Basic details of Kidcoder,  from their site:

  • Brief introduction to computer hardware, software, and programming history
  • Introduction to the Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Express development environment
  • Managing different types of data such as numbers and text
  • Learning how to make decisions about program flow
  • Obtaining and validating user input
  • Working with numbers and math operations
  • Working with strings (text)
  • Learning how to debug (find errors in) your code
  • Learning how to write loops to execute sections of code many times
  • Working with arrays (sets of data)
  • Learning how to publish your programs to other computers
  • Putting it all together — write a simple graphical game!

Basic details of Teencoder, taken from their site:

  • Introduction to the C# programming language
  • Creating Windows Forms
  • Using dialog controls
  • C# data types and variables
  • User input and flow control
  • Math functions and string operations
  • C# debugging and exception handling
  • Object-oriented programming concepts
  • Classes, inheritance, and polymorphism
  • Collections, sorting, and recursion
  • File Input/Output
  • Final project is to make a graphical chess game!


A Teachable Moment in Secular Values

Since coming out as an atheist, I’ve only had a few people ask (and not always directly) how I determine what is moral without a higher power guiding me.

by Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard

Easily… and without the guilt.

I grew up in a somewhat religious family. Though, out of the three siblings, only one of us (Eldest Male, duh) was baptized as a baby…you know, for good luck with carrying on the family name. If my parents truly did  believe, then that’s like a big middle finger to the other two of us – still carrying around our original sin. Pffffft!

Suddenly, in 6th grade I was sent to private school. This was never really explained to me – why, suddenly we had to go to private school, when I knew my parents couldn’t afford it. This was apparent by the almost daily fights about money, the “No you can’t have that we are broke” retorts, and the work study I had to do to offset the tuition that my parents couldn’t afford. I digress. The summer before 6th grade I had to take a catechism class to learn all about the church and God and Jesus. Then, after I passed all of that I could be baptized and receive first communion.

It was during this summer that I learned of the hellfire and damnation that would accompany me unless I was a good little girl who never made any mistakes and stopped asking questions that “weren’t appropriate”. I could never understand why loving God at HOME on Sunday was a sin, especially since he was always with me.

Growing up in private school with religion class, praying for everything, and the inability to ask critical thinking questions of said religion, I felt – and eventually believed – the guilt so pushed upon me. I believed that I was a direct reflection of my parents and what I wanted from life wasn’t as important as filling this mold already made for me. Oozing out of the mold meant I was a “sinner” and a “disappointment”.

Despite what I learned from so many years of “being God’s child,” I graduated from high school, left for the Air Force and chose to have my dog tags read “NO REL PREF” meaning No Religious Preference. I knew from that point on, I was a former Catholic. It’s been a long journey from NO REL PREF to Atheist and Secular Humanist in 14 years.

The hardest part is un-wiring the GUILT.

It still tries to poke its horrible little head out – trying to guilt me back into those thoughts of inferiority.

That, my friends, is how indoctrination works. Scaring little kids (who don’t have the mental capacity or maturity to decipher what THEY believe) with a supernatural being and his comic-book worthy arch nemesis, “Be good or go to Hell!”

Why can’t we just teach kids (everyone) to make the right choices, be kind, and honest because it’s good for ALL OF HUMANITY – present and future?

If an adult needs a supernatural being to keep them in line – actually needs it – then they are being good for the wrong reason thereby taking the moral quality away.

If an adult truly believes that without this supernatural being they would go around murdering, raping, and enslaving – then they should seek professional help.

By Jeffrey Weston - Ape, Not Monkey comic strip

Let the record show that, although I don’t believe in the existence in any supernatural beings, I absolutely EDUCATE my children on the religions of the world – and of course, philosophies.

Also, my children will decide for themselves if they believe in a supernatural being. I cannot and will not make that decision for them. My job is to give them the tools, resources and knowledge for them to make their own decision. As a child of religion – I was not given that opportunity. At the beginning of my 6th grade year I told my parents that I did not want to go to private school. My mother told me that after 1 year, if I didn’t like it, I could go to the local public school. A year passed and I told them I still wanted to go to public school – motion denied! End. Of. Story. I had no choices, no say in the matter – but was falsely told I would… same goes for church. Sure ask questions… make sure you have strong faith— those were the words coming from the mouths of church members, teachers – but those most certainly were NOT their actions or the “read between the lines” mentality/message.

It took some time… and lots of research… to realize that values do not come from religion. If you think about it, religion kind of just repackages morality. It  markets its specific morality as  “One,” “True,” and “From God” so that we don’t question it and realize that these values are subjective.  People are the ones who determine what is right and wrong. The leaders in the churches tweak and adjust the “One,” “True,” “From God” morality to fit societal needs. The Bible endorses murder, slavery, rape and the  selling of children however, modern society does not endorse these things, because these things are immoral. So… being good without god is not only possible, it happens even within religion.

For years I’ve held onto a few key words in my values list. And since I anticipate more questions as to how I can possibly hold myself back from murdering, raping and enslaving those around me, I’ve compiled a list (not limited to) of what morals/values we hold in our family and hope to instill in our children:

honesty – with yourself and others

respect  – for yourself and others

courage – to stand up for your beliefs after careful consideration and critical- thinking

kindness – to yourself and others

good citizenship – to improve the world in the present and the future

personal responsibility – if you falter, accept it, make amends and learn from it

critical thinking – form your own opinions based on research, analysis and evaluation

compassion – sympathizing with others and wanting to alleviate their pain

integrity – doing what is right, even if no one would ever find out

Giving my children the tools to live a rich and purpose-filled life, drawing on values that stem from a desire to make the world in which we live a better place is the same as all parents (who actually parent).  We believe in teaching morals, ethics, and values which help our children grow into integrity-filled, responsible, intelligent, kind members of society – which is better for society in the present and the future. But when I educate them, their consequences deal with this world, the reality in which we live and not on supernatural or after-life consequences.

… Maybe there is an after-life – passing on our values to future generations in the hopes that one day many people will live and promote universal morality based on the commonality of human nature.

You are Amazing (and Beautiful and Accomplished)

In my Homeschool research today – I came across This Adventure Life with some fabulous forms and info that I am truly excited about. In my search for secular resources, it can be daunting to constantly run across information with a religious view/perspective only.

When I do find secular resources I am ecstatic to find other brave, unique, intelligent families out there who homeschool secularly – and often they teach many religions from an academic viewpoint.

While looking through This Adventure Life, she mentioned another blog, SmrtLernins where she called for  us to:

Really, have you looked at yourself lately? Have you taken a moment to consider your many amazing qualities?

And asked us to fill in the following so we will

“remember that you, the unique and remarkable you, are an amazing person.”

So… I will 🙂

1. Make a list of five amazing, beautiful physical qualities about yourself. Don’t couch them in an insult (“I look good for my age” or “I have nice legs for an overweight person“). You have at least five beautiful things about you, I guarantee. If you can’t see them immediately, this is your opportunity to search for them. Find those five amazing things about your appearance and list them.

  • I have great eyebrows.
  • I have a pretty, bright smile
  • I like my nose
  • I have cute piggy toes
  • I have delicate hands with great natural fingernails

2. Make a list of five amazing things about your mind. Don’t couch them in an insult (“I’m smart for someone who never finished college“). You have at least five incredible things going on up your head. If you can’t think of them immediately, this is your chance to discover them. Find those five amazing things about your mind and list them.

  • I love to learn and research new info/idea/thoughts
  • I am creative
  • I am naturally organized and detail-oriented
  • I learn quickly and am self-taught on many topics
  • I love words and learning new vocabulary

3. Make a list of five amazing things you have accomplished. Don’t couch them in an insult (“I’ve accomplished a lot for someone with children“). You have accomplished at least five spectacular things in your life. If they don’t spring immediately to mind, take this time to remember them. Find those five amazing accomplishments and list them.

  • I finished Air Force basic training and Morse Code tech school
  • I gave birth to two healthy, brilliant, talented children
  • I educated myself on depression and worked to bring myself from the darkness to the life I have today.
  • I started community theatre at 23, after years of being too scared to attempt it – and now I have a great local acting resume
  • I volunteer with the Karen Weidinger Foundation‘s annual 5K (for 2 years now) helping to raise money for local breast cancer patients

What a great way to realize that I don’t always have to have “auto-negative-comments” on when I talk to myself.

What would you write? Share here if you like 🙂

Big Thanks to This Adventure Life and SmrtLernins

Franken Destroys Focus On The Family Witness

Why We Decided To Homeschool: Dear Principal

Dear Principal,

My family and I feel that it’s important to let you and others know, how we feel about the job your school is doing with the children in your care and how it affects our community.

Our son came to us twice in this past school year because of bullying he received while under the care of your school. We presented this information to you both times. Since the end of the school year we found out (from our son, not your school) that the bullying had been happening regularly throughout the year.

Our sixth grade son told us hesitantly about the bullying: occassional punches and name-calling such as “gay,” “fag,” “emo,” “goth,” and “cutter.” The hateful act of throwing around slurs (to which they do not even know the definitions) and using them to berate and negatively judge someone–without any concern or action by a wiser authority figure–is abhorrent, both for the children’s ignorant hurtfulness, and the adult’s tacit approval through their inaction. For any child to feel that they are less than an equal to another simply because the parents of our town are raising bigots, is the direct opposite of growth, evolution, and tolerance.

The behaviors these minors are exhibiting can lead to serious results in those they bully:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings…

…And those are just the short term consequences. Must we doggedly and sadistically search for signs of depression, self-mutilation, drug dependence and suicide before we react?

I’ve personally wrestled with feeling that I’ve overreacted, given the underwhelming reactions by you and your administrative team. Though you promised to take things seriously, investigate the situation, and hold accountable those in violation of the Code of Conduct, the school year closed without any reconciliation or further communication from you.

I want to believe in the educational system. I want to believe that all your teachers and administrative teams want the very best for each child and work every moment of every day to ensure that in addition to the core curriculum, they also teach all children to foster a love of lifelong learning, and to learn to socialize beyond age and gender boundaries. I want to believe that they encourage individuality and creativity, honesty and integrity. I want to believe that they help the children explore how to be inventive and resourceful, teach them mental and physical health, and require tolerance and respect.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that we cannot count on the public school system, and your school in particular, to care, teach, and strengthen our community through its young people, particularly and notably in the area of tolerance. We have found your school neither a positive nor a respectful environment.

We will  not allow any of our children to be treated in ways that prevent them from learning, changing, and becoming individuals. The inability of traditional school to aid in reversing the bigotry, prejudice, and hate is disheartening and vividly concerning to me and my family. Continuing to send my son, or any of my children, to your school would be a gross and costly mistake as a parent, if not outright negligence.Therefore, we have decided to do something about our son’s situation.

I began to research the educational system, and what it means to be a teacher in today’s America, and the pros and cons of the possible alternatives to public schooling and its inherent problems. It is my great hope that sooner rather than later, this school–and so many others–will realize the importance of the children over the ego of the adults. It is my great hope that your school will see their errors and work quickly to find a resolution.

My family has found a solution. It will not be in your school.

Weighing all options and becoming much more versed in homeschooling, we made the final decision to begin utilizing the world outside of a traditional classroom to educate my son.

The world is too full of wonder, curious ideas, and possibilities to be confined into a school building all day anyway.


Outside-Of-The-Box Mom

Easy and Healthy Homemade Salsa

Hubs made Homemade Salsa on the fly the other day (and he’s never made any before) and it’s delicious!

Mmmmm... salsa




One corn cob

Drizzle of olive oil


Drizzle a little olive oil to backing sheet to prevent sticking

Cut tops of tomatoes off, turn upside down on baking sheet

Cut onion into quarters add to baking sheet

Add corn cob to baking sheet

Slightly drizzle a little more olive oil over vegetables

Cook at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes

High Broil for 5-6 minutes, until slightly blackened

Lightly blend tomatoes and onion in blender to keep some texture

Cut corn from cob, add to tomato and onion mixture, stir


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