April 25, 2014

Homeschooling: an option for Black Boys

My wife has been in the education field for nearly 25 years and has often lamented, “Maybe we should consider homeschooling the children.”

Homeschooling? What?  But, we live in a city, and I mean a BIG city. Isn’t that for people who live in some remote location? Or for religious cults who look to indoctrinate their children?  I mean, what was she thinking about?  How would you know what to teach? What about colleges? What about social interactions? Well my opinion changed considerably after our son was born last year, as I became a bit more open to the idea.

I’ve had the opportunity to spend my son’s first year with him daily.  The first few months passed as expected with doctor visits, way too many diaper changes, sleep deprivation for me, and constant napping for him.  As we rounded towards year one there was lots of crawling, spitting of food, attempts to walk, and most importantly a curiosity to learn.  Words, shapes, colors and sounds all stimulated him.  Its been said that the human brain does much of its growth in the first 3 years, and for the first time I was witnessing this firsthand.

Our daughters (we have 3) are all terrific students and citizens in school, and their teachers have all enjoyed having them in class. We were fortunate to have someone stay with them at home during their years before starting kindergarten, and I realize now what a blessing that time was for them.  I want the same for my son also, and I’m beginning to believe it might not be a bad idea to extent that time at home even longer.

A recent study commissioned by the Council of the Great City Schools concluded,  “Black males continue to perform lower than their peers throughout the country on almost every indicator.”

Sigh.

At this point in the discussion aren’t we conditioned to be surprised to hear anything positive concerning the plight of African American Boys?  Since we consider private schools, charter schools and magnet schools as a solution to bridging the achievement gap, why not homeschooling?

I discovered many valuable resources to guide in the decision to home school. I started with The Homeschool Magazine and the Well Trained Mind which both offered a general overview of the homeschool experience, and later I discovered Black Parenting and Black Homeschoolers which spoke more directly to some of the issues we would be likely to face in considering the home school option, and  an interesting book, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League which detailed one family’s journey as they home schooled their three sons.

Ultimately, we will decide as a family the impact homeschooling will have on our entire family as well as our son, its nice to know there are so many resources available to assist.

Make it Happen Monday: Uninvolved parents

Uninvolved parentsWhat happened to parenting our children?

I’ve been annoyed lately at the lack of parenting I have noticed. Parents don’t want to share commuting their kids around, they don’t send them out with money, they don’t support their activities, and they don’t talk to them about…LIFE. Our jobs aren’t over when they become teens. Selfish parents.

My daughter has a friend who has 2 parents in the home that don’t want to drive her anywhere to hang out with her friends. I was going out of my way to pick her up only to get there and see her parents in their jammies while I drive their child around to realize if I didn’t do it…she’d go nowhere. The worst part? She knows it, too. She’s always at home hoping to go somewhere.

Another instance? Another friend. When there is a football game at their school or any event they are both interested in , she needs a ride. The first thing I ask my daughter: if I drive you, will they bring you back? The answer is always “no.” WTH?! It’s common courtesy to share the responsibility of driving them. Typically, my husband or I will drop off/pick up and one of the other parents will do the other. Makes perfect sense. It’s different if it’s a single parent…I will do more because I am an at home mom and am able to, but with 2 parents in the home, there is no excuse, a door mat I am not. I do believe in the idealism of “It Takes a Village” but this is beyond those parameters.

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

More Posts - Website

Save money at the gas station.

While gas prices have come down, keeping any and every cost down is important in today’s tough economic times. My husband mentioned to me that when I make fast starts or sudden stops I’m using more gas. I wanted to learn more about this “notion” of his and found these great tips on saving money at the gas pump on bankrate.com:

Car maintenance
1. Keep the tires inflated properly. This one is simple and a potential lifesaver. Under-inflated tires waste fuel and wear out the tire tread. Also, check tires regularly for alignment and balance.

2. A well-tuned engine burns less gas. Get regular tune-ups and follow through with routine maintenance. The right parts and fresh oil keep your engine happy and less thirsty for gas.

3. Get the junk out of the trunk. A weighed-down car uses more fuel. For every extra 250 pounds your engine hauls, the car loses about one mile per gallon in fuel economy. Carry only the basic emergency equipment and items you really need.

Gas shopping
4. Buy the lowest grade (octane) of gasoline  for your car. Check your owner’s manual for this information. As long as your engine doesn’t knock or ping, the fuel you’re using is fine. You can save hundreds of dollars a year.

5. Pay cash at stations that charge extra for credit cards.

6. Don’t top off the gas tank. Too much gas will just slosh or seep out. Why waste those extra pennies?

Driving
7. Drive intelligently; don’t make fast starts or sudden stops. You’re just overexerting your engine and burning extra fuel. Gradual acceleration also helps automatic transmissions run better. Engine-revving wastes fuel, too.

8. Lighten up on the accelerator. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. Speed limits have gone up around most of the nation, but you don’t have to see your fuel consumption go up drastically as well. For example, driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your fuel economy by two miles per gallon.

9. Avoid long warm-ups. Even on cold winter mornings, your car doesn’t need more than a minute to get ready to go. Anything more and you’re just burning up that expensive fuel.

10. Combine errands into one trip and plan your stops for the most efficient route. You’ll save yourself time and money.

11. Do not rest your left foot on the brake. The slightest pressure could cause a drag that will demand more gas use — and wear out the brakes sooner.

Other good habits
12. Tighten up that gas cap. Make sure it’s on securely. Buy a new one if your current cap doesn’t fit snugly. Gas easily evaporates from the tank if it has a way to escape.

13. Buy a fuel-efficient car. When pricing cars, factor in long-term fuel costs. Keep in mind that sunroofs add to wind resistance, lowering the mileage per gallon.

14. Be smart with the air conditioning. On the highway, closed windows decrease air resistance, so run the air conditioner. But in stop-and-go traffic, shutting off the air conditioning and opening the windows can lighten your fuel use. Air conditioning can lower your fuel economy by 10 percent to 20 percent.

15. Remove snow tires in good weather. Deep tread and big tires use more fuel.

Also, check your local news station online for local gas rates and locations!

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

More Posts - Website

Extreme ways to save you big bucks.

How eager are you to save money?

Sell your car. Take the bus train, walk or ride a bike; this is easier if you live in the city. Doing so will eliminate loan or lease payments, gas, registration, insurance, maintenance and repair costs. Jeff Yeager, author of “The Cheapskate Next Door,” estimates that the savings is probably close to $10,000 a year. That’s a lot of loot.

Take in a boarder. I know, sharing your personal space is hard to stomach…but it will help cut down your monthly payment and towards monthly utility bills (even if you do it for a short while). *Be sure to draft rental terms.

Downsize. This is tough right now, especially if you are a homeowner. If you rent, however, downsize by a bedroom. This will slash your rent and spending (less room to stash purchases).

Cut up credit cards. Use cash only. This will force you to think twice. This is the first thing I do when I need to slow down on my spending. When I know it’s coming right out my account, I’m much pickier about my purchases.

Go generic. Store brand is cheaper.

Cut Coupons. So many ways to save with the help of savvy bloggers who scout out the best deals, coupons, bogo’s and share with the masses. Three of my favorites sites are: frugalgirls.com, smartshoppersunite.com and southernsaver.com. It’s almost a game to me now.

Told you these would be extreme. Just imagine if you adopt them for 6 months how much money you could save or a debt you could pay off. if you know of another extreme ways to save major bucks, please share. If you’d like me to research another topic related to saving, please ask. Happy saving!

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

More Posts - Website

Shop wisely and hang on to more cash.

I love scoring a great deal when shopping. Getting the best quality is important to me and getting it for a bargain/deal price is important to me as well. Here are some things that I do (and many other smart shoppers do) to save money.

One thing I do is save up for quality. If I can’t afford it, I will wait. Quality is defined as the degree of excellence which a thing possesses. I would rather own 1 quality handbag instead of 5 of a lesser quality. This is also true for home decorating, it took me 5 years to decorate our Charlotte home because not only did I want pieces that made me happy to walk by and use. How does this save you? You want durable pieces you don’t have to replace. Save up!

Take care of your items. This will prolong their life and your enjoyment of the item. How does this save you? You’re not replacing anything. We all work hard for our money, why not love what you have? I still have my first Gucci bag I got when I was 13…mint condition, and I clean my handbags, stuff them to maintain their shape and store them in their respective storage bags. Maintain!

Say no. I’m a work in progress on this one, but the more I tell myself “no” the easier it’s becoming. Don’t have it to spend? Don’t spend it. Say no!

Stay home. Ok, don’t laugh…I am known for not venturing out if I don’t want to spend money…you may think it shows I don’t have willpower…but staying home is exercising my willpower. lol. Don’t go!

Stick to your plan. Got a budget? Live within it. Budget!

Shop around. I use this great app on my cell phone (ShopSavvy) that I can scan any barcode (or enter) and it will display all the other places I can purchase it and their pricing.n The internet is awesome, too. I will literally google exactly what I am looking for. Search!

Coupons. I always start out trying to clip coupons, but it gets old quick and then months have passed by and I’m starting all over again. I do have some friends however that save a lot of money, Shelly @ momfiles.com has a “system” she ahhhmazes me with her coupon skills. Clip ‘em!

Follow other shoppers and/or the stores you love. Besides my blog, theposhblog.com, there are many others that will share deals with their followers via FB pages, Twitter, RSS feed, etc. Another favorite is smartshoppersunite.com. They share great info. Follow along!

Happy saving!

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

More Posts - Website

Easy ways to save on that energy bill.

Has your energy bill been on the rise? Oh my goodness my energy bill has been ridiculous. I have been researching ways to cut down my utilities. Here’s what I have adopted from various sources regarding the energy bill:

- Call your energy company and straight up ask them how you can save on your bill. Ask about “flat billing” (paying one flat rate each month regardless of actual usage) or “locking in a low energy rate.” For example, instead of being billed at 18 cents per KWH, you may lock in at 11 cents per KWH for one year. Both options are a one year commitment to be renewed each year.

- Unplug. Standy power wastes wattage. You know, the charger plugged in with no phone charging…According to the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory, standby power makes up 10% of electric use in our homes. I don’t know about you, but that can be considerable; in my home we have a total of 5 cell phones, 2 blue tooth’s, 5 iPods…it adds up. Fix: Use a power strip that turns everything on and off at once.

- Buy products with the Energy Star Seal; use less power…even in standby mode.

- Get an energy audit. Track energy usage and get advice on how to cut back. Contact your energy company about this or try Microsoft’s free Hohm service at www.microsoft-hohm.com

- Turn it off! Leaving the room? Turn off the lights. Don’t need it? Turn off the light.

- Keep your ac/heat setting stable; adjusting it up and down adds up.

If you are trying something else, please share.

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

More Posts - Website