So, You’re a Stay at Home Mom. What do you want, a medal?

I did.

I wanted a big bright shiny medal!

I wholeheartedly with every ounce of my soul despised my life and was about ready to up and escape it all; just a few months ago, no less. Being a wife, a mother and everything in between, I was at my wit’s end! (pregnancy hormones are raging and out of control, by the way)

Let’s be honest though, because when I started this web log I told you “if you know me, you’ll now KNOW me and if you don’t know me, you’ll love me.” In that little blurb of the “about me” section of my page I was writing of my truth. I made a promise to myself and you, the reader, to be truthful; and this post is just that. Get ready. Saddle up!

I’m lazy.

There. I said it. I am. I am utterly, hopelessly lazy. Ask anyone who REALLY knows me. My mom, my sister, my husband…they’ll all tell you, it’s true.

How can that be? Well, I hate doing anything I don’t FEEL like doing; so, I just don’t do it. To be brutally and embarrassingly honest, dishes have sat in my sink for more than just a few days; I’ve restarted the same load of laundry in the washer more than just a few times; my bed has gone unmade for over a month, which means, yep, the sheets weren’t changed in that time. GROSS! I know.

My laziness never mattered to anyone much before I had kids so I never grew up. I never got my act together and now at almost 33 years old, I’m struggling with how to really act like an adult in my everyday life.

I little history about me. I’m the youngest of five. Growing up in my house, I didn’t have to do a thing. Ask them; they’ll tell you. “Lisa never had to do anything.” “She’s spoiled because she’s the baby.” “Lisa got away with everything!” you can sense the resentment in their tone. But, it’s all true.

Surprisingly, despite my laziness, I am and always have been incredibly ambitious, self-motivated and hard driven – when I want to be. When it was for something important to me, I could move mountains and not let the earth settle until I succeeded.

 

Some days, things get accomplished and I feel like a million bucks; most days, though, I think, “Those dust bunnies will be there tomorrow.” So, instead of stressing out over my to-do list, I look into my babies’ eyes and hug ’em tight because tomorrow is another day but they’ll be another day older, another inch taller and that much closer to growing up and out of the phase where mom’s hug CAN fix anything.

Everyday I pray and thank God for this life, the time I get to spend with my kids making memories, and for this man sitting next to me making sacrifices to make it all possible.

So what about that medal?

Truly I don’t deserve one. I’m a stay at home mom. I realize and appreciate that I am blessed beyond the vast universe to have a roof over my head, food on the table for my kids and the health of myself and family.

Did I birth 6 human beings? yes.

Do I maintain a household for 8 people and 4 pets despite my laziness? yes.

Do I juggle being a mom, wife, writer, artist, choiffer, chef, gardener, maid, boogie-getter and storybook narrator? yes.

But I don’t get a medal for living a life of my choosing.

This is why I have a hard time answering the blizzard of questions and comments like, “How do you do it?” or “You’re super-mom!”

It’s not easy and I certainly don’t claim it to be, but what about that medal?

It’s looking into those eyes I mentioned earlier.

It’s hearing my 6 year-old say “mmm, mom! this is really good!” with a mouth full of a dinner I just spent over an hour preparing.

It’s seeing my husband across a crowded room with his freshly cut hair (saving money by doing it myself) playing with our kids, making them giggle and laugh.

It’s even this cat on my lap purring as I type this.

All these little things add up to a big bright shiny medal.

So I leave you with this:

 

Live each day as if it were the only day you have left. Tomorrow might be a new day, but you’ll never get to do this day again (unless you’re Bill Murray).

 

***Disclaimer***

I do change the sheets (almost) every week.

We’ve been keeping up on the dishes (for the most part).

Since Dogwood loves to vacuum, the dust bunnies don’t hang around(for too long).

 

 

5 Ways to Use Coconut Oil Outside the Kitchen

Coconut oil is a versatile thing.

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Besides the kitchen, you’ll find a jar of expeller-pressed, raw organic coconut oil in my bathroom closet, shower, nightstand and on our baby-changing table because not only is it nourishing us through food, but in these 5 ways you may not have thought to use it.

  1. Oil pulling- If you’ve never heard of it or know how it’s done, check out this post on my initial experience. It’s not an everyday practice for me, but when I need a pick-me-up or I know I have a big day ahead of me, this ancient Ayurvedic ritual is where I turn.

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2. Toothpaste- A small amount (tsp.) mixed equally with my other go-to in the home, baking soda, and I have a non-toxic fluoride-free home-made toothpaste that leaves my mouth feeling fresh and clean.

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3. Shaving cream- After heating up the skin a bit, a literal drop on each leg and I have a smooth shave that lasts longer than conventional foams, gels or plain soap. My skin also stays smoother for up to three days.

 

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4. Diaper cream- Another natural alternative to some of the questionable products on the shelf, coconut oil soothes and moisturizes the skin while wicking the wet diaper away from baby’s bottom. She also smells really nice.

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5. Cuticle softener- I get very dry cuticles that fray and cause painful and unsightly fingernails. A drop of coconut oil and a finger massage leaves my nails hydrated, and cleaner than picking at the dry skin and let’s face it, when will I get a manicure? Yeah, never.

There are countless ways to use coconut oil in our everyday lives from hair conditioner to salad dressing; please share in the comments how coconut oil finds its way into your home.

… to be an author?

I have an announcement!

It’s one thing to write a letter, comment on social media or an email, it’s another thing to proclaim oneself as an author.

Even just writing this blog I don’t think I’m good enough. Self-destructive criticism of my own thoughts written out on the screen before me is frightening.

But, I’m taking a leap.

drumroll please…

I’m becoming an author.

Self-publishing a book of my own is a huge undertaking. I find time to write and research while my babies are sleeping. I beg my husband to read and re-read everything 1,000 times. I’m afraid I won’t actually get it done because my perfectionism is getting the best of me.

In publishing this post I hope that you all will hold me accountable, pray for my sanity and eventually read my non-fiction masterpiece.

A book about homeschooling and getting over some of the hurdles that accompany it, I’m writing to help others on the same journey as me and I also hope to shed light on this wonderful experience that is educating our children at home.

I’m scared and excited all at the same time to be taking the next step and make something of this “thing I” can’t stop thinking about.

Wish me luck!

I Can’t Homeschool: I Need ‘ME’ Time

Always nice to be reminded of the importance of taking time for ourselves. Too often we caught up in the mundane tasks of everyday life…

A Homeschool Mom

i_cant_homeschoolHomeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. May we offer encouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.

…..

Our day starts pretty early. From the minute I get out of the shower, till the minute my kids’ heads hit their pillows, I am on my toes. There are days I feel like I’m rushing from one activity to the next, constantly feeding hungry mouths, cleaning up endless messes, and running a myriad of errands. If I’m not careful, I can easily run myself into the ground. Taking personal time is not only recommended, it’s a must.

One of the arguments often heard against homeschooling is the lack of personal time afforded parents. With kids in…

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Wild Horses and Light Bulbs

We spent a weekend in April at Assateague Island National Seashore!

I couldn’t resist a free entry weekend to our National Parks. I also couldn’t resist a chance to get to the beach. Winter has been far too long and the first nice weekend was put to good use.

I knew little about Assateague Island other than it is an island, has a beach, is a National park, and is within reasonable driving distance for us.

We left on Friday evening after picking up and surprising Grandma with an RV trip. We arrived in Dover, DE and spent the night in an overflow Lot for Dover Downs International Speedway. (with permission of course)

Up bright and early, we had an hour drive down into Maryland and embarked on the Visitor Center in Assateague by 10am.

An educational movie enlightened us about the wild horses living on the island and how they came to be there. Fascinated, the girls sat and intently watched and learned before getting wet in the touch tank where they explored the horseshoe crab, welks and clams.

This park was perfect for us combining nature with history and playing at the beach.

We ventured on a nature walk with a ranger from bay to beach and saw wild horses as well as a frog and countless birds.

After our walk we spent some time playing in the sand and collecting shells. This was the first National Park we had been to where they encouraged taking home nature, no more than a gallon bucket of treasures from the beach.

We got crafty by making and learning about the endangered piper plover chick.

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We took some family portraits and finished our junior ranger booklets before getting our badges and heading off for dinner.

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A short ride to a state park in DE and we set up camp for the night; grilling steak, chicken, vegetables and sweet potato fries… mmm. We had s’mores and the girls were able to use their fishing rods for a few minutes as the sun set on a perfect day.

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Sunday was a day to get back because grandma had work on monday; we headed north.

The free entry fees were burning a hole in my passport. I couldn’t help but sneak another adventure into this weekend.

I’d been aching to bring the girls to Thomas Edison’s Laboratory for a long time. I begged Darryl to make the stop but he urged we needed to make it back for his mom’s sake.

A few miles up the road and he was rubbing his eyes, straining to keep them open. He asked if I could take over driving for a while so he could rest.

Ah ha! He rested. I drove. Before I knew it, we were parked in West Orange and staring at the Laboratory of one of the greatest inventors in history. (sneaky, I know)

Three o’clock and the Historic site closes at four. We had little time to waste thus ventured on a self-guided tour of the Laboratory including a musical talk from a ranger and with just moments to spare, we received more badges and were back on the road by four.

Darryl thanked me and said he really enjoyed it! Thomas Edison National Historic Site is right down the road from us and full of information, history and a plethora of learning opportunities. My only regret was that we didn’t have more time to see his house or spend more time exploring the exhibits. We will be back. (when it’s free)

We did leave donations with the parks we visited but Thomas Edison has a per person fee of $7. Reasonable for a small group but we are a group of seven. Most of our Nation’s parks have an entry fee per vehicle, the most expensive fee we ever encountered was $20 at Yellowstone, which did include Grand Teton.

For more information on our National Parks visit their website and be sure to check their free entry dates.
*** I am deeply sorry for the quality of the photos in this post. Not that my previous amateur pictures are anything to write home about but my usual trusty camera gives clear shots and has a nice zoom lens, however, it stayed home and I only had my point-and-shoot; one that has been battered and beaten by little fingers.***

 

 

NPS FREE ENTRY WEEKEND

 

We are hitting the road again!

Just for the weekend and not too far from home but the sunshine is calling our names.

Urgency to get out there arises from our National Park System’s Free Admission Days; April 18 and 19 is opening weekend for our nation’s most treasured places, and entry fees, although regularly minimal, are waived!

“If it’s FREE, it’s for me!”

I urge you to get up and get out there to visit and support our parks because if we don’t, future generations are at risk of losing these historic and beautiful gems.

The park system relies heavily on visitor contributions and support so we’ll be donating in spite of our waived fees.

If not for the parks, our big trip last summer would not have been as enriching as it was. My patriotic duty is to spread the love I feel for those memories with my readers (if I have any).

When you hear National Park, you may think Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore but you’ll be surprised to find many right in your own back yard.

Here is the list of participating parks who waive their entrance fees.

Be sure to browse around the nps.gov website for information, trip ideas and web-based ranger programs.

Also, follow along for posts from the road and don’t miss anything by subscribing!

Family on the Road: Portraits

Family Portrait Photo Album 2014

Thanks to our tripod, a few strangers and my long arm we collected a family portrait from all our favorite places along our 8,000 mile trip. Enjoy!

Our Last Leg

It has taken me months to finish posting about our trip from last summer. I’ve been inundated with life. My apologies. Without further adieu, here it is, Our Last Leg!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 Day 51

After first learning about Mt. Rushmore and the four most influential presidents of our country, Juniper took a strong interest in Abraham Lincoln. It was crucial to learn more.

We were ecstatic to find out Abe’s boyhood home and birthplace was on our way and part of our National Park System. Most americans don’t know he was born in Kentucky, with Illinois being nicknamed “The Land of Lincoln.” We spent today learning about his family, their struggles on the frontier, and how he acquired some of his many nicknames. We visited the farm he was born at with his actual cabin on display. We learned about his life and death and with all our new knowledge and another badge, we continued through Kentucky.

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We made it to the place where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia meet and tried to acquire some geocaches. While Darryl fed the girls dinner, I went on a mighty hunt but did not succeed until my fourth attempt.

Feeling some time was waisted, we moved on as far as we could with the PA air so close Darryl kept it moving and stopped just before our home state line.

Thursday, October 2 Day 52

This trip has been more amazing than I dreamed it would be. I would do it again in a heartbeat but home is calling our names.

The last leg is bittersweet as Darryl and I are anxious to get home, Ash expresses her want to “see more places.”

“I don’t want to go home,” she pleads.

Ironically she was the first to mention going home way back on day 20, now after this grand adventure she didn’t want it to end. Who could blame her?

That one statement from my three-year-old made these 8,000 miles, 52 days, 22 states, all the trouble, hassle, heartache, pleasure, fun, sweat, tears, laughter, learning, vomit, diarrhea, vet bills, junior ranger badges, pictures, souvenirs, and MEMORIES all worth it, in those sweet three-year-old words.

“I don’t want to go home; I want to see more places.”

Well, the beautiful thing is we will see more places. After we recharge our batteries, fix all the kinks with our rig, and get through the holidays; we will get that eminent itch and we will go on the road again.

Rest area round of duck-duck-goose:

We made it home in record time with little stops and breaking our travel guidelines; Darryl drove over 500 miles today!

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We were home in our beds by 8:00pm and it never felt so good to stand in my shower ( I think I was in there for over 45 minutes) and flop into my bed and stretch out; it was heaven!

Life Lessons from the Road

Simple living means more memories.

Family bonds grow stronger when you can’t escape each other.

More space means more clutter.

Experiencing life first hand is nourishing to the soul, more so than reading about it in a book or watching it on TV. Without the space, clutter and TV, our lives were spent exploring, singing, talking, DOing.

Time saved from cleaning a smaller space was spent on more enjoyable adventures.

Go with the flow.

Think positive. If you encounter stormy weather, keep moving. Tomorrow is a new day.

No, My Hands are NOT Full!!! An Open Letter to the Old Lady at the Bank

Yes, They are all mine and no my hands are NOT full

Well, maybe they are sometimes full of peanut butter or soft baby hair going into a ponytail, or they are full of love for my kids as I hug them tight…

An open letter to the strange man at the park or cashier at the supermarket, the old lady in the bank:

My hands are NOT as full as you suggest because to be so, then by what you are implying is that my kids are a burden when in fact they are a blessing, thank you very much…

My response to the unwarranted comments we receive:

“You’ve got YOUR hands full” The only thing my hands are full of is blessings!

“Five girls…that’s a lot of weddings.” And a lot of funerals… you’re point?

“I feel bad for you when they get their monthly (really)” I don’t even know what to say to this appalling rude personal invasion.

“Are they all yours?” No, I picked up a few strays at the park. (I know some people babysit and such but it can be in an offensive tone like asking a pregnant woman if it’s twins because in your eyes she is huge!)

Well, I know this all sounds like I’m angry but truth be written, I’m not. In fact I’m quite content with my little piece of heaven on earth and to be completely honest, I pity those that feel the need to make such remarks. It tells me they never had the joy of feeling what I feel because if they did, they would be smiling or telling me how lucky I am(which I have had my fair share of joyful commenters to prove this point). I also find that most of the people telling me how full my hands are never had any children of their own. How would they even know?!

Anyway, next time you are in the supermarket or bank or wherever and you see a mother or father with a gaggle of kids please bite your tongue unless to offer some normal conversation without judging a parent just living their hectic life. We don’t have all day to parade around answering to strangers about our choice of contraception or in my case, lack thereof.

Thank you!

10 Reasons I Homeschool My Kids

So, after yesterday’s post about the different ways we implement learning in our home, I thought it appropriate to share some reasons we decided to home school in the first place.

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your reasons you do or don’t and to tell me how ridiculous mine are.

As a mama, I feel it is important to let my little ones grow and explore without pressure and negative energy forcing them into a classroom to learn something they are not interested nor emotionally or academically ready just because a group of scientists and educators say so.

Here is a list of 10 reasons I home school my kids:

#10 Identity– I am a product of a public school system. A good one! I have fond memories of my schooling and my teachers but during those years I did not flourish or become anybody. It wasn’t until I was left to my own devices that I found myself and felt I was anybody important. In a public school system (as well as most societal places) I am just a number in a crowd, not LISA. Not anyone special.

Achieving identity has rarely been reached by the end of High School. (Arnett, 2000) In a home school setting, children have the chance to express themselves freely and in some cases learn what, how and when they want. This freedom to explore the world at a pace suitable to the child’s individual needs can only help them set and achieve goals providing them building blocks for a successful approach to a happy life. It might even facilitate the early achievement of work towards a career of their specific interests.

#9 Taking the bus– In rural communities, bus riders will travel between 30 minutes and 3 hours per day. (Biofuels) Some people will say the bus helps mold these youngsters to have great social skills but sitting on a stinking bus with people you may or may not like or even get along with doesn’t sound like fun. This approximate hour and thirty minutes could be spent sleeping, reading, eating a more nutritious breakfast or spending quality time with family or friends. The commute in a car is not any different, however the exposure to diesel fumes would be minimal, but time still underutilized.

For a homeschooling family, being late for the bus or the first bell is not a problem.

#8 Freedom from schedules– This might sound like a reason NOT to home school; I disagree. Freedom from the bus, freedom from the bells, from the clock can do a lot for a person’s stress levels. Entrepreneurs who work for themselves in a deadline-less career have fewer heart attacks attributed to stress. The expression “live by the clock die by clock” comes to mind. According to Forbes, PR Execs, Event Coordinators, and Newspaper Reporters are among the 10 most stressful jobs of 2014. (Adams, 2014) What do they have in common? Deadlines. They are hurrying and scurrying to meet the needs of others because their job is please or report by a certain date and time. Mirror this stress to adolescents going to school, catching the bus, turning in their paper. Hurrying to make it to class before the bell rings. What if they have to use the bathroom between classes? They’ll almost never make it and be detained after school or worse on a Saturday for bladder control.

#7 Using the “facilities” – They don’t need to ask permission to use the restroom at home. Although, they do feel the need to tell me about their ins and outs, it’s not a requirement to receive permission. In public school, I understand the need for orderly conduct and such, but restricting when nature calls and belittling kids by having them announce to a room full of practical strangers is not promoting healthy bathroom habits. Children may not want to use the toilets at school and will voluntarily hold urine for prolonged periods of time which cause urinary incontinence later developing urinary tract infections and leading to an irritated or overactive bladder. (Health, 2012)

#6 Sleep – When we can sleep according to our individual needs we create a basis for maintaining optimal health. Being disrupted by an alarm clock before our body is naturally ready to awaken is harmful to our ability to ward off ailments, focus throughout the day and handle stress appropriately. Children are no different.

School going children were studied according to sleep habits. The results support the theory that sleep matters. It showed kids who sleep more perform better at school, they are less hostile show more happiness and seem more relaxed, they also do not get sick as often as sleep deprived kids. (O’Brien & Kellan, 2010)

Another study verified high school start times play a part in depriving our adolescents necessary sleep. It showed students performing better academically later in the day rather than early in the morning. This same study concluded the need for strategies that focus on the epidemic of sleep deprivation among juveniles to increase school performance and improve students health. (Hansen, Janssen, Schiff, Zee, & Dubocovich, 2005)

Until such strategies exist, we’ll be just fine sleeping in and schooling at home.

#5 Socialization– Don’t scoff at me yet. Dr. Patricia Lines of the Discovery Institute published a report with staggering results. Homeschoolers scored better than public schooled kids in a key area of controversy in the Home Schooling debate: Socialization. Homeschoolers were “well-adjusted” and demonstrated fewer behavioral problems. Dr. Lines concluded “there is no basis to question the social development of homeschooled children.” (Weight, 2006)

Now that business is out-of-the-way here is my philosophy: It takes an army to home school!

We recently took a trip to Mt. Rushmore. Our 5 and 6 year-old daughters participated in the Junior Ranger Program. The Park Ranger interviewed my kids. He stated boldly, “You are homeschooled.”

Astounded by this observation, my husband questioned how he knew. His response, “They looked me in the eye.”

Where in an adult life are you required to sit for hours against your will with people of your exact age for 13 years of your life? Nowhere. In the real world you need to speak and work with people of all ages in all walks of life. Homeschooled kids have more opportunity for real world socialization. So, who teaches my kids? Well, besides the obvious contributors, the supermarket checker, the chiropractor, the priest, the librarian, a waitress at the diner, Elmo, our dog and cats, the neighbor, Tom. Everyone we meet, everywhere we go, we have and use our opportunities for learning. It’s a worldwide classroom and the possibilities are infinite!

“Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled. They were not sent away from home each day to a place just for children but lived, learned, worked, and played in the real world, alongside adults and other children of all ages.” -Rachel Gathercole, Shansgazette

 

#4 Round peg, Square hole – People are unique. There are no two people the same. Everyone has a way of talking, tying their shoes, and yes, learning. Some are good at taking tests, some are better at hands on approaches. Unfortunately, public schools and some educational institutions in general pigeon-hole children into one uniformed way of teaching, learning and achieving. This sets some of the students up for eminent failure. If Billy has poor penmanship but is an impeccable public speaker he will get an incomplete in his debate class because his written arguments aren’t as compelling as his performance.

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” -Beatrix Potter

 

A homeschooled student has the freedom to learn at his/her own pace practicing methods that cater to their own unique style of learning.

Freedom + Learning= Success

 

#3 Bullies– “One in four kids are bullied at school (htt).” either on the bus, on school grounds at recess, in a classroom or the internet. One. In. Four. That’s 25% chance that a child will be ridiculed, name called, made to feel inferior, worthless or suicidal.

#2 Innocence- “More than 4.5 million students are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade.” (Shakeshaft, 2004)

#1 Family– Raising children to the age of 5 years and letting them go off to an institution for six hours a day, at a minimum, sounds more like punishment than incentive for a good education. No one can take the home schooling memories, these moments away from me and my kids. Every day is filled with love, laughing and especially learning. Mostly, I’m the one learning from them. They teach me how to live life like there’s no tomorrow. They teach me humility and most important, patience.

These tiny humans are everything to me and my ability to be home learning alongside them is more rewarding than I imagine winning The Pulitzer Prize. We are building a strong unit of trust and understanding, gifts these girls will reap benefits of until their last breaths.

Quality education is a huge part of our little home school but we are first and foremost a family. Our house may not always be clean or our beds made but rest assured we are here, we are learning and we are loving it!

 

 

 

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying-statistics.html

Adams, S. (2014, January 07). Retrieved from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/01/07/the-most-stressful-jobs-of-2014/

Arnett, J. J. (2000, May). Emerging Adulthood: A Theory of Development From the Late Teens Through the Twenties. American Psychologist, p. 477.

Biofuels. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.biofuels.coop/archive/diesel_part2.pdf

Hansen, M. M., Janssen, P. I., Schiff, B. A., Zee, M. P., & Dubocovich, P. M. (2005, June 1). The Impact of School Daily Schedule on Adolescent Sleep. Pediatrics, pp. 1555-1561.

Health, U. D. (2012). Urinary Incontinence in Children. NIDDK.

O’Brien, M., & Kellan, A. (2010, November 15). Retrieved from National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/sleepdeprivedkids.jsp

Shakeshaft, C. (2004). Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature. Huntington, N.Y.: U.S. Department of Education.

Weight, M. (2006, May 19). Retrieved from Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org/a/3479

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