Social Media: Bringing the Narcissism to Surface

This is an odd post for a home school blog but I think that we must better ourselves to be able to better our kids.

Ask someone about social media and answers about Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and My Space (remember that one) come tumbling forth (we must not forget Tumblr).  Social media is one of those topics that can cause visceral debate on the worthiness of the sites.  Being in the social media crowd is fun, it helps people to network, and it allows instant access to friends and family even when they are busy.  Yet as I dive deeper into the social media scene I have come to realize a startling and what I believe to be a universal fact.

Social media brings out the narcissistic, selfish, and greedy side of us.  Most of the time without checks and balances.

Now before you go all commando on me please check your social media ego at the door.  Also, if you are anti-social media I would like for you to check your ego at the door too (however if you are anti-social media why are you reading blogs in the first place).  If you do not check your ego you will just get mad and that isn’t good for your health, especially your blood pressure.  Are you ok now?  Make sure you take deep breaths while continuing to read.  If you start to feel you blood boil just remember this is an opinion piece.  I probably don’t know you and am not talking about you.  Also I would like to say that I am a member of Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and Goodreads.  I have my own web of social media so my opinion applies to myself.  Ok, let us commence.

Social media wants us to think that what they are providing is a place of conversation.  That is true to an extent.  For us average folks we get to share with 100s of our friends and family what we did today with just a few strokes of the keyboard.  We can share bites of our lives and things that we would like to have in our lives such as that million dollar diamond ring.  Social Media is the drive thru of “conversations”.  All it does for us is give us fast fillers.  Not to mention that it is all about us which is great!  Who wouldn’t want to talk about themselves all the time?  In the real world most of us don’t start out a face-to-face conversation talking about ourselves.  Yes that is correct, starting a conversation talking about yourself is bad decorum.  Yet what is the point of social media?  It is to broadcast ourselves.  It is to tell the world what we are doing, where we have gone, who we went with, how cute our kids are, and what a horrible day we are having.  We make our opinion known, our voices “heard”, and we take comfort in that we know a lot about a lot of people.  We “share” for the enlightenment of our friends.  Sure we post comments on our friends walls and retweet their 40 character happenings but that is a sideline to our own pages.  Yes it good to tell about monumental events such as a graduation, wedding, and new baby.  However, that is not what we mainly use it for; it is for self promotion of the daily ebb and flow of our lives.  In the real world when someone behaves exactly how we behave online we usually call the person narcissistic, a busy body, and a gossip.  However, in the world of social media the norm is turned upside down and now we praise and reward this behavior with likes, comments, and retweets ect.

Social media can become an addiction of wants.  We are a nation that thrives on consumerism. That is a good thing when we keep our own personal consumption within our means (another post).  But when does being a consumer start to consume us even when we are not consuming all that we desire?  As Americans we are not strangers to greed and now we can broadcast to all people our wants.  We label our 500 pins using the words “want”, “must have”, and “need”?  Is that really necessary?  We pin clothes that we are never going to buy, jewelry that we can’t afford, bodies of other women which we will never have because those bodies have been through photoshop (that is another post), decorating ideas which we will never do, recipes we will not make (sometimes), and DIY projects that sound good in theory but won’t be completed.  When we post “I have to do this”, “This is so cool.  I can do this in my livingroom”, “I need to learn how to do this”, “I want this ring”, how many of those things do we actually get and get to do?  I am guessing the percentage is low.  To pin something is just to fuel the fire of consumption, which in turn subtly fuels the greed and discontent within.  We don’t recognize the burning embers but they are present.


All right, I feel that we need to check our breathing.  I can tell that blood pressures going a little too high.  Let us relax, slow down our breathing, go get some chocolate, and then we can continue.

Now that I have brought you down low it is time get up off the floor and dust ourselves off.  Social media has a place in society.  I am not one to go commando and ban it all from my life and the life of my kids.  I think that it is fun and a good tool for networking.  However I do think that I need to check some things in my own web of wonder.

First I will only pin things if I am actually going to buy, make, or do them (including promoting friends’ talents).  I am going to stop using the words “want” and “need” in my pins.  For, as I am teaching my kids, there is very little I actually need and far less that I should want.  I am at a more joyful place when I am content with the blessings I already have.  I am not going to crowd all the other folders with stuff I am never going to buy, make, do, or have time for.  Instead I am going to make a folder and label it Dreamer.  This is where I will place all those photos of exotic places, beautiful dresses, fine jewelry, home-make-overs, and DIY projects that I will never be able to experience (this will take great honesty from myself).  To dream is a great thing!  To be able to still see things through a dreamers eyes is a marvelous existence.  Dreaming is fun but to turn that dream into a desire, then a want, and then a need is to burn the fire of discontent.  I have been warmed by that fire many times and I don’t need to be warmed by it any more.

Second, I will post encouragements on other people’s pages.  I will help promote their talents and wonderful experiences more than I promote myself.  I am trying to teach my kids to think of others first before they think of themselves.  For me this includes my friend list and followers.  It is time for me to act on the internet as if I were interacting face-to-face.  Once my kids dive into this rabbit hole how am I to teach them how to navigate the Wonder Land of Social Media when I myself act on the code of narcissism instead of the code of love, respect, gratefulness, and contentment?  The answer is I can’t.  I must practice what I preach.  So here I go on my great adventure with the right mind-set.  Will you join me?  I hear the weather in Wonder Land is beautiful this time of year.


Spring Break!

My daughter attends a public charter school.  This weekend starts our spring break for two weeks!  This is a time for less “school” and more “educational fun”.  On our agenda this week is making homemade gummy candy, homemade oreo cookies, the zoo, hiking, our local botanical gardens, art museum, and the local aquarium.  Two weeks off of school is amazing!  The first week is spending time close to home baking and crafting.  The second week is going out and about.  If you live in the Boise area the first Thursday of every month there is free admission to the Art and History Museum.  Sweet!  I encourage all families you teach at home to take a week off for Spring Break.  What is so great is that you pick your week off.  Now go have fun!

Nature Studies

Balancing Act of Spring

It has been widely believed that you can only stand an egg  up during the first day of Spring.  This, I am sad to say, is not true.  With a lot of patience you can stand an egg up any time of year.  Here is a link that explains the whole wacky thing of standing up an egg.  http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/egg_spin.html#badegg

So sorry to ruin your science experiment for the day.  Don’t worry I won’t leave you with no project.  I like this one: make your own weather station.  This is such a fun idea that my daughter doesn’t want to be left out.  We are going to do this after she comes home from school.  I think it is perfect, especially where we are in the North West.  March can have  does have crazy weather where we live.  So have some science fun, just make sure it is true science!  Enjoy!

Weather Station Link:  http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/science-projects-for-kids-weather-and-seasons8.htm


A Boy and His Whale Shark

     First let me help you see the whale shark.  In the bottom left corner is the tail folded under.  Then as you follow the paper up from the tail you come to the fins, the paper on top of the body.  Then you see the squarish head, just perfect to feed on plankton.

      It is difficult to get into my son’s head at times.  Without the vocabulary to express one’s self it is difficult at best.  My son loves cars, trains, and anything with an engine.  He will race around the house with a “rocket ship” that can be anything from a bottle cap to a stick.  I must admit I worry at times about his creative and analytical skills.  He seems to be so one-sided.  He has never really been into “art”.  By art I mean coloring with crayons or painting.  Other kids seem to love this; not my son.

    Homeschooling gives me a chance to expose his little mind to different things.  At the end of February science was watching documentaries on sharks.  What he was getting out of it I couldn’t really tell.  Then the other day, out of the blue, he came to get me.  He excitedly exclaimed “Mom, look a whale shark!”  I walked into the kitchen and lo and behold there was a paper whale shark on our floor.  I was amazed at the ability of my son to take crumpled up packing paper from a box and turn it into art.  It is moments like this that show me he is doing well and thriving.  My daughter shows progress bit by bit.  My son has proven that he will take giant leaps in education.  I will just have to plug along and wait for those moments where he scales his mountains.

We tried to tape this behemoth to his wall but it wouldn’t stay up, it was too heavy.  So we threw away the body.  I folded and kept the fins so that he can draw a baby whale shark later this week.  The second shark we can easily tape to the wall.

In the Kid Zone

Win the War with Picky Eaters

Eating wars in my house, I always won and still do win (even with my hubby, who hates tomatoes and peas).  I saw enough picky eaters that I was determined that I would not raise a picky eater.  We are fortunate enough to have a pediatrician who is all about the individual development of a child.  She suggested that once the kids could sit up and started to be interested in what I was eating then I could start to introduce solid foods.  Consequently I started each child before they were 6 months old (see link below).  I introduced new foods to the kiddos all the time.  When they were almost a year they were eating plain yogurt and liking it.  Now I have to make my own yogurt to keep the cost of consumption down.  At meal times the kids almost always ate with us.  Even when they were babies on pureed food, I fed them while we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Yes, this meant that it took longer for me to eat but then they saw what I was eating and became curious and wanted to try.  There was a time when my daughter was 9 months old that she survived on cheese, applesauce, bananas, and plain yogurt.  I allowed it for a while and then started to mix it up.

Between 1-3 years of age they had a version of what we were eating.  For example if I was making Chicken Alfredo the kids would have the chicken and plain noodles because they didn’t like the sauce.  My mom helped by showing us that food could be fun.  She would always make broccoli with the stems still on and they were trees that we giants could eat.  My son would not eat salmon but he would eat tuna fish with crackers. When we had salmon for dinner I would cool his down in the fridge, mix it with a little mayo, and serve with crackers. He loved it and now he will eat salmon just as I make it.  So make food fun or interesting.

Once the kids where about 3 or 4 and refused to eat what I put in front of them then they could just sit with the family and not eat.  When they were hungry later that night, dinner would be reheated and then they could and would eat what I had fixed.  My son, who is my rebellious one, actually chose to go to bed hungry on 2 occasions when he was 4.  That was his choice and by time morning came he was starving.  Usually bland oatmeal was on the menu.  Now that they are older they know that complaints will not work.  Oh they still complain on certain meals but I win, every time.  My son started to take picky eating to a new level.  He started to choose to not eat.  That was his way of putting control back into is little hands.  Not happening on my watch.  He had to eat his meal and then was excused.  He even fell asleep at the table a couple of times.  Can we say stubborn?

When it came to meal times I never gave into making more than one meal.  Fruit juice is a breakfast or lunch time drink.  We have milk with dinner.  If they are thirsty, even when small, then they get water.  I do not have a lot of snacks in the house.  If you are hungry between meals the fruit bowl sits on the counter or there are cheese sticks, carrot sticks, and celery in the fridge.  Apples and peanut butter became a favorite of my daughter.  My son will eat almost any veggie with ranch dressing.  Having a whole carrot to yourself is the coolest thing at age 4.  We have planted mini gardens and my kids know where food comes from, even meat.

Now I don’t make them eat everything.  For example the kiddos do not like bell peppers and they are allowed to pick those out of stir fry after they take one bite (you never know when a bell pepper will become delicious).  But they have to eat the carrots and celery in that stir fry.  I make my portions small for them.  I only put about a kid’s handful size of meat on their plates and 2 handfuls of veggies.  By putting those small portions on a big plate it tricks them to thinking that they are eating less and many times a second helping is asked for.  How would you like it if your plate came to you heaping with food and you were told that you had to eat everything!  Not so much fun.  When I remember I have the kids, as young as 2 with some help, fill up their own plates.

Dad is to be a good example and not complain about the meal either.  I have started to make one vegetarian meal a week to help with the food budget.  One night I made chili sans the beef.  Everyone complained about the fact.  After getting angry with them I had another idea.  I just got up, took everyone’s bowl away, and put it back in the pot.  I sat down and started to eat my dinner.  To say the least my family was shocked.  I told them that I don’t serve those who are ungrateful for what the Lord had provided.  They didn’t want the dinner, they didn’t have to eat, and I will not tolerate complaints from anyone any more.  The family asked for their meal back and I received many compliments on the chili even though it didn’t have meat.

I have been asked the picky eater question before.  Even by moms with children much older than mine.  They were amazed that I would let my child go hungry at such an early age.  But my kids were the ones eating items off the potluck table while they were going out to by their kids a meal they would “eat”.  This is just my opinion but in my observation it isn’t about the food as much as it is about the power struggle.  The kids want to rule.  They want to call the shots.  When they find out that they can call the shots, then they will take those opportunities more and more often.  We teach our kids to share, we don’t have to teach them to be selfish.

During our battles over meals I try, though have failed to do this many times, to teach them about being thankful for what God has provided.  Allowing them to choose to go hungry teaches them that there are consequences to their decisions.  By not making different meals teaches them that mom is not a short order cook at the mercy of her family’s whims.  Kids learn thankfulness, respect, and consideration while sitting down to a meal.  We aren’t always going to get something we like.  But we should always be thankful for the food we are about to eat.  We should always be respectful to the one who provided and prepared the meal.  We should be considerate of the feelings of the one who so lovingly prepared the meal for you.

An example of this in my own life is meals with certain family members.  I use a lot of spice.  My secret ingredient in my spaghetti sauce is red wine.  They on the other hand are a little timid of spice and bold flavors.  At least that is how they cook.  In my opinion their meals are okay, I could use more flavor.  When we are invited to a meal, however, I am thankful for a dinner I didn’t have to cook.  I am respectful and considerate of my hostess because I know they spent time and effort to give a good meal.  These are things that my kids have had to learn and that learning starts at home with the parents, especially mom.  My dad told us a story about when he had to eat an item that he hates!  Dad does not like ranch dressing.  There is no way that you are going to make him eat that horrible stuff!  Dad and Mom were invited to a dinner with some other couples.  The hostess served individual salads for a first course and all of them had ranch dressing on them.  I mean what weirdo doesn’t like ranch dressing?  Everyone likes ranch dressing.  Well, instead of asking for a new salad with a different dressing my dad ate the whole thing.  Talk about thankfulness, respect, and consideration.  My brother and I were in awe that he would do such a thing.  And for a while I believe we stopped all complaints at dinner time.

Even though I still get complaints from them, my kids are more adventurous to try something knew.  Especially my 8-year-old.  She doesn’t like every thing that she tries.  That is okay but she does receive a lot of kudos for taking a risk.  When we are invited to lunch or dinner they are learning to be a gracious guest.  Potlucks aren’t a nightmare for me.  They know that they can get what they want but a veggie and fruit have to be on the plate as well.  Being a good eater isn’t just about health (that is important) but it is also about learning life lessons and building good character qualities.

* Here is a link on when to start solids.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-baby/PR00029


Monthly Art Music Saint Studies

Art, Music, and Saints for March

Each month we try to study about a particular artist, musician, and Saint.  I love the two main websites about the Charlotte Mason Method.  They have lesson plans, resources, and so much more.  However, I do not agree with some of their choices on art and music studies.  I think that some of the choices younger children should not be exposed to them.  I, being the rebel that I am, have come up with my own lists.  I try to match the month with what we are studying.  Why do I pick a saint?  Charlotte didn’t have them in her curriculum.  Even though my main method is the Charlotte Mason Method, I do incorporate the Classical Method as well.  Home schooling is about what fits you and your kids and not about following the rules 1, 2, 3.  Now on to our studies!  In March the obvious choice for a saint is St. Patrick.  I picked Monet for the artist because of his landscapes and showing movement of wind.  For a composer I look up to see who was born in the month.  Joseph Haydn was born in 1732, March 31st.  This date is interesting to my kids because their Grandad was born on March 31st too.  Now art and music study usually just involves looking at a picture of a famous artist and listening to music during our morning routine (which I just implemented this week).

March Artist is Monet:  The Waterlily Pond, 1899, The National Gallery, London. 232KB http://www.cgfaonlineartmuseum.com/monet/p-monet2.htm                                                                          Woman with a Parasol, 1875, National Gallery of Art at Washington D.C. 164KB http://www.cgfaonlineartmuseum.com/monet/p-monet5.htm

March Composer Joseph Haydn:  Symphony No. 94 Surprise, there are 4 movements                               http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFcONi1ynIM&feature=related                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cs_f3GupCo&feature=related                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JESXMWrwzVQ&feature=related                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb9DM9Tf5fo&feature=related

March Saint St. Patrick: For popular holidays that revolve around saints I try to go to the library a month before the holiday and check out books on the saint.  Another online resource is the American Catholic website.  Here is a link http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/default.aspx?id=18  Many of the more famous saints have a radio clip about the saint and features like how to celebrate a certain day as a family.

I am not a Catholic but I am a non denominational Christian.  I, however, believe that it is important for my kids to know the history of their faith.