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I’m On Friendly Atheist

For my lovelies who haven’t seen that I’ve moved – CLICK HERE! and update your subscription or Google Reader!

But also…

I’m one of the new contributors on Friendly Atheist. Yesterday my first post went up here.

I’m excited to be part of the community and look forward to becoming more involved (and strengthening my writing skillz).

So read it HERE and tell your friends, your community, anyone – that a new voice is out there and I’m pretty damn cool.

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Isabella’s Christmas – The Reason Of The Season: Day 18

My family and I have put together our lists of our favorite things about Christmas.

Here is Isabella’s TOP 10:

1. Presents

2. Christmas Casserole

3. Buying gifts for family

4. Christmas eve pajamas

5. Excitement when first see all the presents under tree on Christmas morning

6. Making Christmas List

7. Santa

8. Making cookies for Santa

9. Watching my Dad eat the whole casserole

10. Getting candy in my stocking

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

Atheist and Merry! The Reason Of The Season: Day 7

 

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

11 Nice Ways to Say ‘No’ to Food Pushers

We all have lots of holiday parties coming up… for work, family, friends, even kids’ parties! Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pie… OH THE PIE!!

So, how can we enjoy and make sure we don’t end up needing a Santa-Claus-sized diet come Jan.1 (who are we kidding…. more like Jan. 12 or so)?

JUST SAY NO!! (Thank you, Mrs. Reagan)

Easier said than done.

**food so yummy, want to go to there, food=comfort, it’s the holidays dammit**

Our friends over at SparkPeople.com have some tips on how to “Nicely Say No.”

The Push: “It’s my specialty, you have to try it!”

Your Response: “I will in a bit!”

Why It Works: Stalling is a great tactic with food pushers. Odds are the offender won’t follow you around making sure you actually try the dish. If they catch up with you by the end of the party to ask what you thought, tell them that it slipped your mind but you’ll be sure to try it next time.

The Push: “This [insert name of high-calorie dish] is my favorite. You’ll love it!”

Your Response: “I had some already—so delicious!”

Why It Works: A white lie in this situation isn’t going to hurt anybody. You’ll get out of eating food you don’t want or need, and the food pusher will have gotten a compliment on what probably is a delicious dish.

The Push: “It’s just once a year!”

Your Response: “But I’ll probably live to celebrate more holidays if I stick with my diet plan!”

Why It Works: People can sometimes see healthy eating as vain—a means to the end result of losing weight and looking better. It’s harder for a food pusher to argue with you if you bring attention to the fact that you eat right and exercise for better health and a longer life. Looking good just happens to be a side effect!

The Push: “Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…”

Your Response: “I wouldn’t say obsessed, but I am conscious of what I eat.”

Why It Works: Words like “food snob” or “obsessed” are pretty harsh when they’re thrown around by food pushers. But don’t let passive-aggressive comments like this bring you down—or make you veer away from your goodeating intentions. Acknowledging your willpower and healthy food choices might influence others to be more conscious of what they eat. Sometimes you just have to combat food pushers with a little straightforward kindness.

The Push: “If you don’t try my dish, I’m just going to have to force you to eat it!”

Your Response: “Sorry, but I don’t like (or can’t eat) [insert ingredient here].”

Why It Works: It’s hard to argue with someone’s personal food preferences. If someone doesn’t like an ingredient whether its sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or butter, odds are that he or she hasn’t liked it for a very long time. If you’d like to get creative with this one, go into detail about how you got sick on the ingredient as a kid or how your mom says you always threw it across the room as a baby. Who can argue with that?

The Push: “You need some meat on your bones.”

Your Response: “Trust me, I’m in no danger of wasting away!”

Why It Works: This food push is definitely on the passive-aggressive side. Using humor to fight back will defuse any tension while making it clear where you stand.

The Push: “One bite isn’t going to kill you.”

Your Response: “I know, but once you pop you can’t stop! And I’m sure it’s so delicious I wouldn’t be able to stop!”

Why It Works: This is another situation where humor will serve to distract the food pusher from his or her mission. It’s a way to say “thanks, but no thanks” while making it clear that you’re not interested in overindulging.

The Push: “But it’s your favorite!”

Your Response: “I think I’ve overdosed on it; I just can’t eat it anymore!”

Why It Works: If you have a favorite holiday dish that everyone knows you love, it can be especially tough to escape this push. If a loved one made the dish specifically for you, the guilt can be enough to push you over the edge. But people understand that food preferences change, and most have been in that situation of enjoying a dish so much that they can’t touch it for awhile.

The Push: [Someone puts an extra helping on your plate without you asking.]

Your Response: Push it around with your fork like you did as a kid to make it look like you tried it.

Why It Works: While putting food on someone else’s plate can be viewed as passive-aggressive, it was probably done with love. (Let’s hope!) Making it look like you ate a bite or two can be an easy way out of the situation, but you can also just leave it alone and claim that you’ve already had your fill. (After all, you didn’t add that extra helping!)

The Push: “Have another drink!”

Your Response: “I have to drive.”

Why It Works: No one will argue with the fact that you want to drive home sober. If they do, you should have no qualms walking away from the conversation, period. If they offer a place for you to stay, you can always get out of the situation by blaming an early morning commitment or the fact that you need to get home to let the dog out. Kids will also get you out of everything.

The Push: “We have so many leftovers. Take some!”

Your Response: “That’s OK! Just think, you’ll have your meals for tomorrow taken care of.” 

Why It Works: Not every party guest wants to deal with the hassle of taking food with them, and this makes it clear that you’d rather the food stay. If the host is insistent, you can feign worry that they’ll go bad in the car because you’re not going straight home, or it’ll go bad in your fridge because you’ve already been given so many leftovers at other parties recently. Or be polite and take them. You’ll have more control of your food intake away from the party anyway. So whether you don’t eat the leftovers at all or whether you split a piece of pie with your spouse, you’re in control in this situation.

These tactics can work wonders in social situations, but honesty is sometimes the best policy. A simple “No, thank you” is hard for a food pusher to beat, especially if it’s repeated emphatically. Remember, too, that it’s okay to have treats in moderation, so don’t deprive yourself of your favorite holiday foods. Just make sure that you’re the one in control of your splurges—not a friend, family member or co-worker who doesn’t know your fitness and health goals!

HAPPY HOLIDAY EATING!!

 

God And Baseball

I’ve been told that people don’t really pray for “God” to determine the outcome of a sporting event. I’ve heard that those are silly things non-believers say to try to discredit the “power of prayer”.

Now I have proof.

I live in the proud St. Louis area and our baseball team is in the 2011 World Series (although, the whole world doesn’t compete…) and my Facebook is slammed with baseball status updates. *groan*

As I was perusing my Facebook last night, I took this screen shot when someone prayed to “God” on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals. Because, you know… it’s “His” top priority to help win this thing. Right? And loving Jesus means “God” will be on your side in this terribly important matter.

 

Well, I hope it was worth it because this is still happening…

despite prayers… but at least “He” was doing what is most important… winning sporting events.

New Nationwide Study Confirms Homeschool Academic Achievement

In 1998, by Dr. Lawrence Rudner, a professor at the ERIC Clearinghouse, which is part of the University of Maryland, surveyed over 20,000 homeschooled students for his study, titled Home Schooling Works. In his study he discovered that homeschoolers (on average) scored about 30 percentile points higher than the national average on standardized achievement tests.

Since Rudner’s research was conducted over a decade ago, HSLDA commissioned Dr. Brian Ray, an internationally recognized scholar and president of the non-profit National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), to collect data for the 2007–08 academic year for a new study. This new study would build upon 25 years of homeschool academic scholarship conducted by Ray himself, Rudner, and many others.

The Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics included 11,739 homeschooled students from all 50 states who took three well-known tests (from 15 independent services)—California Achievement TestIowa Tests of Basic Skills, and Stanford Achievement Test for the 2007–2008 academic year. To it’s credit, the Progress Report is the most comprehensive homeschool academic study ever completed to date.

 

The study showed note-worthy advances in homeschool academic achievement.

Additionally, the so-called issues, such as student gender, parents’ education level, and family income, had little bearing on the results of kiddos being homeschooled.

 

National Average Percentile Scores
Subtest Homeschool Public School
Reading 89 50
Language 84 50
Math 84 50
Science 86 50
Social Studies 84 50
Corea 88 50
Compositeb 86 50
 

a. Core is a combination of Reading, Language, and Math.
b. Composite is a combination of all subtests that the student took on the test.

Only a slight difference between boys and girl on core scores:

Boys—87th percentile
Girls—88th percentile

Household income had almost no impact:

$34,999 or less—85th percentile
$35,000–$49,999—86th percentile
$50,000–$69,999—86th percentile
$70,000 or more—89th percentile

Though the parent’s education level saw a difference, it still remains that the homeschooled children of non-college educated parents scored well above the national average.

Neither parent has a college degree—83rd percentile
One parent has a college degree—86th percentile
Both parents have a college degree—90th percentile

A certified parent did not matter:

Certified (i.e., either parent ever certified)—87th percentile
Not certified (i.e., neither parent ever certified)—88th percentile

Amount of money parents spend on home education made little difference:

Spent $600 or more on the student—89th percentile
Spent under $600 on the student—86th percentile

Government regulation also didn’t change results:

Low state regulation—87th percentile
Medium state regulation—88th percentile
High state regulation—87th percentile

Report here.

So… how do you like them apples?

 

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Homeschool Confessions

 

I should use this.

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