What can one do against such reckless hate?

Morning Random Internet people!

Looking at my analytics, my top search this week happens to be “potatoes in panty hose”  It’s gratifying to know that while the world seems falling apart, other people are looking for alternative uses for hosiery.

Not really.

I apologize if you’re here to learn about the many uses of hose, because I just don’t care about that today.

It does seem as though the world is increasingly violent, but perhaps it is only my perception based on my newsfeed and network.  Increasing or not, it is very real.

I recognize my privilege, as I do not have to worry about issues that many parents in this world have.

“Privilege” isn’t about what bad people the advantaged are, its about our understanding of issues we don’t have to deal with because of those advantages.

It feels inadequate and somehow… wrong to write about how we learn when children are being shot and teachers set on fire because education is seen as a threat.

It feels trite to talk about our projects and goals, when many children don’t  have access classrooms or enough teachers.

It feels shallow to talk about autism acceptance and my children w/disabilities when minorities w/disabilities most often end up in prison.  (or murdered, or exploited)

It FEELS that way.

What can I do?

And how should I respond?

I don’t know how to change the world.

I think it might be beyond me to ever know.


I do know  that remaining silent about the things on my mind does nothing to help any of those kids.

I do know that regardless of how f*cked up the world is, the world needs each and every one of our voices and the sharing of experiences.

As the late systems scientist Donella Meadows wrote, we must “dance with the system” AND “expose our mental models.”

We MUST express what is on our minds.

We MUST do so whether it is angry and stressed or calm, happy or sad.

THEN we need to be humble and to be open to considering the point of views of others.

to LISTEN to people who are directly affected by issues that are only in our periphery.

We do not need to agree with someone to understand where they are coming from.  We do not need to make people enemies when we disagree.

“Living successfully in a world of systems requires more of us than our ability to calculate. It requires our full humanity–our rationality, our ability to sort out truth from falsehood, our intuition, our compassion, our vision, and our morality.” -Donella Meadows


Click here for more on Ms. Meadows












Stuck in the Mire. (Disillusionment and the MOOC)

I began college in the spring of 1994 and through stops and starts, and missteps finished my bachelors degree in 2013. Yup, it took two decades.

It is a Regents Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia University with concentrations in child development and communications.

My development courses are better framed as cognitive development over the lifespan but the Uni just called it all child development.  We studied developmental theories, learning theories, family systems theories, and psychopathology (which is a broad term to mean mental disorders, NOT the study of psychopaths.)

In communications I took course in communication types, cultural differences, as well as  a few media courses on the portrayal of minority in the media.

Professors urged me to continue as my work was continuously called graduate level. This is not bragging. It’s the truth.

I’d borrowed, borrowed and borrowed so much money, the idea of borrowing more to continue my studies was just not a possibility. Time, my most cherished resource, is limited.  On top of that, I’m not a very good a**-kisser which a certain amount seems necessary in academia, and really I do not believe one’s bought qualifications should be a basis for respect.

Also, I feel disillusioned.  There is a disconnect among the disciplines I studied that is quite vast. For example, much of what we know about learning is not put to practice in most educational environments outside of preschool. Another is that while we understand that behavior is complex and often the result of systemic issues (family systems theory), we rush to label, medicate , and blame the label (pathology) because it’s easier.

I am torn between the medical model of disability and the social, and frustrated that more do not agree that its a little bit of both.  All of this draws me  into activism kicking and screaming, “I’m just a mom! I don’t belong here!”

I’m stuck in a moor of the muddy science of psychology. It is so soft it sucks you down.


I want to learn a hard science.  Hopefully, like setting a board across a muddy path it will help me move forward.  Yet, again, I haven’t the money, time or desire to throw several more thousand at an institution.

The solution as it stands at the moment is the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). I’m going to work on Duke University’s Neuroscience Certificate through Coursera starting this January. This will consist of three online classes and a capstone project.

My thought is to start a learning blog for that journey, though I still hope to blog here twice a week as well.

I hope to leave it on firmer ground.

“Experiences in Self Determined Learning” Book Review Part 1


Morning internet!

How is your Saturday going?

I need to fix a leaky faucet today.

I know I know, its a wild and crazy life I lead.


It’s something I’ve never done. I’ve been reading and watching tutorials though, and with the help of a friend, intend to give it a go.

It’ll be a learning experience, which I hope wont end in a scene like this:


How do you like to learn?

I have described myself in the past as an autodidact.   An autodidact is one who teaches oneself.

Topics about which I consider myself advanced, yet still learning:

  • Autism
  • Cognitive Development (my degree)

I am moderately versed in:

  • information theory,
  • systems theory,
  • chaos theory,
  • set theory

(which I see as all being very related, like the different sides of a pyramid, system theory being the foundation)

  • biology
  • representation of disability in the media
  • learning/teaching (learning is the process of the learner, whether or not they are being expressly “taught”)

I am rather green at but still learning:

  • photography (I’ve been learning more about lighting lately)
  • entomology (bugs!)
  • disability rights


I have taught myself art, to play the tin whistle,  as well as other hobbies.

This is not bragging, though it may seem so. I am aware that I am not an expert at much of anything and quite ignorant concerning much more.

When I want to learn something new, I go about accessing information via the web in text like blogs and articles, in video, in researching the type of print material I may attempt to find, as well as the occasional online tutorial or class. I also try to find a way to create something of my own in order to aid processing, connection building and so long term memory.  Then, I like to share it.

As I discussed  in my technology vlog last week, this is the way many go about learning now, especially the latest generation who are growing up with a never before seen amount of information via technology.


It’s been pointed out by the pedantic, that this method  is not  autodidactic because I am accessing other people’s work, sometimes taking courses, and networking as a means of learning. None of that learning is “self.”  They have a point.  Yet, I’ve never managed to find  a better word for my method of learning until now.

Thanks to Lauren at “Teacher Learns to Code” I was introduced to the book “Experiences in Self Determined Learning.”


This book, describes the method of learning I have  relied on since I became literate  and which really bloomed with the internet.  This learning is heutagogy.

The book contains numerous sources and avenues for further learning, provides examples of how self determined learning occurs, and how it can be encouraged in a variety of environments. It also discusses moving learners more used to traditional methods into the self determined approach.

This is extremely useful to me.

As a homeschooler, this is not the method my children use to learn.

Our homeschool is guided by choice within structure,  relies on Montessori principles, and is customized to the needs of each of the kids. I consider myself a facilitator and not a traditional teacher.

Yet, I would like the children, especially my almost high school aged son, to be even more involved in their learning to the point of self determination.

Keep in mind, this is not unschooling as we have set subjects and time set aside for learning.

I have  record keeping requirements I must fulfill in order to homeschool.

This often clashes with a desire to build self efficacy through achieving goals.  It doesn’t seem to fit with wanting them to be as independent as possible.  I yearn for a way to do so and yet still check off all the requirements AND work in things I do find important.

This book is  helping me think on just how possible it could be to do both.

I am 3/4  a way through, and intend to give it a nice thorough traditional  book review once finished. (this will be the part where I create to better process)

Until then I will say,

IF you wish you could work on giving yourself or your students more independence and increased motivation in the learning process, this book would be a good addition to your library.

To get an overview I recommend reading a blog post by  the  chapter author Jackie Gerstein, concerning her contribution to the book.

Now, to battle with water valves…pray for me.  ;-)








Rain, Christmas movies, and big canvas dreaming

The weather outside is frightful, but my dears, it isn’t delightful.

It is not exactly the winter wonderland you see on Christmas cards, nor the chestnuts by a roasting fire scenes from carols.

I’m half tempted to write a Christmas carol including lyrics like “tires on wet streets noise,”  “drops  patter on the roof”, “icy chill and darkness.”

The rain has been going for days now.

Of course its not  Christmas yet.

It’s the build up, which to me is just what Christmas is all about.

People are shopping, trying to outdo each other in presents and decorations, and partaking in large quantities of baked treats .

Except here.  I try to avoid all that.

Now you may think reading this I’m some sort of scrooge.


We have Christmas traditions and the children are very excited and dreaming of presents as they do every year.

This year I have planned

- making homemade ornaments

- going to see the huge lights display the local hospital puts on every year

-making goodies to eat at a pre-Christmas/ Tree trimming party on solstice night

-a nice morning opening presents with my children before their father arrives to pick them up

-me seeing a movie and appreciating that I don’t need to cook or bake or be social at all if I don’t want to

This is the most difficult time of year for me for depression and anxiety. That isn’t unique, many feel the same way. It is the time of year I want to push away.

I also have this intense itch to paint on big canvases. I’ll do that to get it out of my system until my mind flies back around to a different obsession.

Fighting the desire to art has only left me with unfinished drafts, neglected writing projects, and an unsettled feeling.

Internal me races in thought, interest, and intensity.  Flying associations and the need to create and a constant shifting define my inner life. I find that humoring inner me and going with it works out best because then I have peace of mind to take care of things that must be done on the outside of my mind which stay fairly constant.

Homeschooling continues on, we have just a few weeks till we take our month of break. I’m reading new things, and plan some more reviews very soon.








Weird Little Sweet Potatoes, From Slips to Dinner


Remember when I told you about our sweet potatoes?


We grew them in two containers on our back porch.

They came out very small, and weirdly shaped.


Today we peeled and cut,






added eggs, milk, and butter,


and then added pecan and brown sugar topping,


After baking for forty-five minutes,


it’s very good.

From botany project to dinner dish, this was a fun project. Every child (save Patrick) took part in planting, caring for, harvesting, and then preparing the potatoes.

Aidan and Bee are planning on changes for next year to try to get a larger crop.  :-)

Talkin Big Bang Theory -Is Sheldon Cooper Disabled

Hello.  I hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday. It’s my first quiet weekend in ages and the calm before the holiday rush.

One interest of mine is representation of disability, especially mental disability in the media including film, print and television programming not only in the news but also fictional portrayal.

I’ve discussed at length my indignation with the media response to the  murder of the disabled, but I do not believe I’ve talked much concerning fictional programming.

Last weekend I had an interesting twitter chat concerning disability and its representation in television.  That conversation led to a podcast concerning Sheldon Cooper…

and so here are my thought concerning the questions the podcast author posed.


Baking with Pete – Making chebe bread

One literacy goal for my autistic son Pete (classic autism w/intellectual disability) is to use checklists for shopping, school work, and working in the kitchen.  I do not know how independent he will grow to be, but I do know he has a better chance if we work on the skills he needs to be so.

Today Peter made chebe bread, a Brazilian bread that is made of tapioca flour and cheese.


I re-wrote the directions large and in discrete steps for Peter to follow, and got the supplies for him ahead of time.


Pete loves cracking eggs,






and checking things off.

Pete put them in and took them out of the oven with supervision, hence, no pictures.


These yummy cheese rolls are now devoured.


There is no such thing as "normal."


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