The woes of online publishing when you can’t fix what’s behind the scenes

I have been writing for Examiner.com for nearly a year as the Phoenix Homeschooling Examiner.  Up to this point, it has been a reasonably positive experience, and I was able to learn a ton of new things from other Examiners.

Early last Friday morning, Examiner.com moved its entire site to a new platform.  As with any migration of thousands of people and millions of articles, there have been some bumps in the road–some rather minor, and some with substantial consequences.  One of the most personal for me is the fact that ALL of my links (my name, my title, my headlines etc) all land on someone else’s page.

To make matters worse, it appears that all of the homeschool examiners from across the country have had the same experience, and one lucky person (who is an Informal Education Examiner) is getting all the benefit of the misdirected traffic.

Since I haven’t been able to see my live pages, nor has anyone else, I found myself spending hours reading the forums and checking out the experiences of way too many other people.  I didn’t want to put up any more articles, since the effort would be in vain, but I have not really done much else that was productive.

I realized I was feeling a little stymied for not having an outlet, and antsy to be writing again.  So here I am.  Back on the blog I started a few months prior to engaging with Examiner.  For the most part, I had tried to keep both venues connected by excerpting the Examiner articles here, and hopefully providing valuable content to a wider audience.

I think my blog missed me and I missed the easy, personal style of writing.  Anyway, since I can’t do anything to make a fix for my homeschooling examiner column, I will come back to putting my full articles here.  We will see how long it takes Examiner to get fixed.

Thanks for reading.  I will keep you posted on the status of the other posts.

A tribute to the gracious life and death of a homeschool mom

Homeschool mom, Colleen Conner, expressed her passion for ballet by teaching dance as worship to children at her church.

Homeschool mom, Colleen Conner, expressed her passion for ballet by teaching dance as worship to children at her church. Photo: Photbucket/4uellen

Why is it that many people with the most authentic and influential lives seem to die at a young age?

Colleen Conner’s memorial service was yesterday, and I found myself asking a lot of questions like this.  I met her about nine years ago at Covenant Home School Resource Center when she brought her daughter there for homeschool classes.  Two years later, I was privileged to begin attending the same church, Open Door Fellowship, where I was able to observe her life at a little closer range.

Fourteen months ago, Colleen was diagnosed with advanced liver and colon cancer, and passed away on March 3, 2010 at the age of 45.  Her husband, Aaron, has poignantly and eloquently chronicled the family’s journey with the illness on Caring Bridge

The memorial service was packed and overflowing with friends and family who shared testimonies of this remarkable woman who deeply touched their lives.  The repeated themes were Colleen’s loyal friendship, a passion for a real and deep relationship with her Savior, unconditional and relentless love for her family, and the courage to both express her doubts and struggles and to fiercely pursue answers to her questions. 

Even in the midst of ongoing cancer treatments with all the horrible pain and side effects, Colleen engaged to the last possible point with walking in her passions.  She continued homeschooling her two children, encouraging them to stay involved in their outside activities.  Daughter Kierna performed in the Christian Youth Theater’s Beauty and the Beast, and her mom made the heroic trip to see the show three days prior to her death. Son Liam worked hard to finish his scouting Order of the Arrow, and the award date was moved up for Colleen’s sake, although she didn’t survive quite that long.  Making time for family and friends was always a high priority, with many coming to see her in her last days. 

The other piece that caused this dear woman’s heart to soar was ballet.

Read the rest of Colleen’s story.

What does Jack-Jack Parr have in common with homeschoolers and Olympians?

Baby Jack-Jack, homeschoolers and Olympic athletes share some key characteristics.

Baby Jack-Jack, homeschoolers and Olympic athletes share some key characteristics. Photo: Pixar

Aside from the fact that many Olympic athletes spend some time being homeschooled during their teen years, I believe that Jack-Jack Parr from “The Incredibles”, homeschoolers and Olympic hopefuls have many parallels. 

In each case, those working with the youngsters may not really know the potential of their students, but they see something big and outstanding, and are committed to bringing it to full bloom.

  • Many of the Olympians recount the role of their coaches and trainers in encouraging them with a vision of superior performance, and the athletes eventually grew into that expectation.
  • Homeschool parents often have the confidence that their dedication to quality education and the relationship with their children will lay the foundation for the inherent gifting in each one to surface and blossom.
  • Baby Jack-Jack seemed to display only ordinary characteristics, but his parents knew that he had the DNA for something amazing. His costume designer, Edna Mode, covered the bases of what might emerge by designing a fireproof and bulletproof, blanket sleeper for him

A great deal of time, effort, and expense is put forth on the part of the instructor, parent, and learner to create an environment that will nurture the budding abilities in every way possible.

  • Athletic training is incredibly rigorous and time consuming, in perfecting the sport of choice as well as all-around muscle development and acuity.
  • Home educators have opportunity to explore many disciplines to find the avenues that really ignite their passions.  Wise parents follow up on interests and encourage their students to understand themselves and pursue their dreams.
  • Even the Incredibles’ babysitter, Kari McKeen, helped in the nurturing process of Jack-Jack by playing Mozart for neurological stimulation and teaching the baby math facts with flashcards for cognitive development.

Read on for more commonalities.

Bo’s Cafe kickoff party hosts The Shack author Paul Young as featured speaker

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Paul Young shares his spiritual journey at the Bo's Cafe kickoff party.

What do you get when you combine the man who created the first wildly successful self-published book in the world [1] [2] [3] with a story of a highly successful man, now about to lose everything, who finds his way to restoration through a group of ordinary friends who gently push him to humbly face the truth about himself?

Answer:  A simple book entitled Bo’s Cafe which has a powerful message about grace and redemption, which the authors hope will become a touchstone of a spiritual revolution called Sanctification by Grace Through Faith.

Paul Young authored The Shack as a gift to his six children to describe his relationship with God.  Along his journey, he discovered some truths about pain and grace and relationships which he articulated in his book, and which have captured the hearts of over seven million readers. 

A year ago, he was contacted by Bruce McNicol, one of the three authors of the not-yet-published Bo’s Cafe and previously of Truefaced. It turns out that Paul had read Truefaced and had been incorporating its spiritual truths of grace and acceptance in Christ for years in his own work.  He offered to have the new novel published under his publisher, Windblown Media, and a dynamic coalition was forged which promises to open avenues of spiritual healing to millions of people around the world. Continue reading

Homeschool leader and pioneer, Chris Klicka, has passed away

Chris Klicka spent the last 24 years as a homeschool dad and as a staunch defender of home education on many fronts.
HIs training as an attorney proved invaluable for the fledgling home education movement that began to grow at a phenomenal rate in the 1980’s.  In many states at the time, homeschooling was illegal or barely legal, with a great deal of red tape imposed on the families.  Chris helped found Home School Legal Defense Association, was its first full-time employee, first executive director, and first full-time attorney.
Through the tireless work of Chris and HSLDA, homeschooling laws have been vastly improved in most states, and families have felt encouraged to pursue safely this cutting edge form of education.
With seven children of their own, Chris and his wife Tracy knew firsthand the many benefits of home educating their family, and the importance of fighting to keep state laws simple and homeschool friendly.    Chris traveled extensively across the United States and throughout the world to speak at conferences, to lobby for positive legislation, and to defend those who were being prosecuted for exercising their rights to teach their own children.
Chris had been fighting Multiple Sclerosis for 15 years, and passed away on October 12, 2009.  He had most lately been Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel and Director of State and International Relations.  His condition worsened last week while at a homeschool conference in Colorado. [1]
Homeschooling families around the world owe a great tribute to Chris for his pioneering work in creating an environment in which homeschooling could flourish.  We will greatly feel the loss, but the next generations will continue to tremendously benefit from all his dedication and hard work.

Addressing the homeschool socialization myth: students will have anti-American ideas

In recent articles [1] [2] [3], I have explored the inevitable question that homeschoolers are bound to be asked by the curious, the skeptical and the antagonistic.

If your children are homeschooled, how will they get socialization skills?

Often there is an assumption behind the question which I am bringing to light, along with information to dispel the myth. 

Assumption:

Since school is an American institution, it must be un-American to reject it.  Perhaps there is some anti-social or anti-American thinking involved for families who don’t participate in institutional schools. Continue reading

Three problems I see with the new show “FlashForward”

Alright, I confess.  I watched “FlashForward” yesterday on Hulu.com.

Problem 1:  I am not a TV person, and rarely take the time to watch a show.  I wasn’t even planning to watch it, although I was intrigued with the minimalistic billboards advertising the program and date only.  I had no idea what it was about, and probably didn’t really care.

However, yesterday while looking for something else, I came on the link to the trailers.  I looked at a couple, felt a surge of curiosity, and decided to spend the next few minutes checking out the full-length episode.

Problem 2:  I was hooked.  Forty-five minutes later, I realized I had totally set aside some other things I really wanted to do for a futuristic, barely-within-the-realm-of-plausibility fantasy that raised many questions in my mind.

What really would be the world-wide effects of the whole population passing out for over two minutes at the same time?  How many people would be killed?  What would it really look like?  How long would it take to clean up all the mess and take care of the bodies?  What caused it?  What is the reason for this massive power grab?  What really happened to the people while they were out?  How likely is it that the events they saw will come true in the show?  What kinds of decisions will people make now that they think they know a slice of the future?

Problem 3:  I couldn’t sleep for quite awhile last night for thinking about the story and all the questions.  My mind goes wild analyzing the characters and the events and the possibilities.  To top it off, my husband wasn’t sleeping well, so every time I would almost drift off, he would toss and turn and jar me awake.  Then I was back to square one with all the thoughts rushing around in my mind.

I find that I am intrigued by trying to picture how common aspects of life will work in the aftermath of a world-wide catastrophe.  A couple of years ago, some friends invited me to watch Stephen King’s mini-series The Stand, and I literally spent weeks mulling over some of the same kinds of questions–many practical things that the movie did not address or were inconsistently portrayed.  Those nagging questions which often seem to easily overlooked or explained away seem to be my nemesis.

I don’t know if you are captivated by these questions, but I would love to hear others’ thoughts on where you think this story line is going to go.  Please leave your comments below.

If you haven’t seen episode 1, here is the link.

(I guess I could read the book to see how they deal with the questions, but this is more interesting!  If you have read the book, don’t spoil our flights of fantasy.)

Thanks!