Why I ♥ Oscar Mayer

When most people think of Oscar Mayer an image of the wienermobile or hot dogs come to mind. You might even start singing the “Oh I Wish I Was” jingle. To be honest a year ago when I went to Madison to meet the folks at OM I didn’t really get what I could do with this long term. But here I am a year and a half later in love with their brand. To their credit, this is social media with bloggers done well.

The Oscar Mayer brand is big on education and community programs. That is why I keep coming back and supporting them. Sure, I love hot dogs and football and deli slices and parties but the reason I continue to put my name out there for them is that they constantly are running programs that fit well with the type of blogger I want to be. Someone who has something fun to say and gives back at the same time.

This is the time of year that Lunchables runs their back to school promos and this year they have brought back the awesome Lunch Notes Promise that you all helped me with last year. But they also added  a new campaign called Created By You. They’re asking kids to submit their big idea for a movie, song or video game for a chance to work with a pro, like Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers band, to bring it to life. Since we all know my little guy is hysterically creative this is a perfect fit  for him.

As part of the campaign I am hosting an awesome Created By You party for some of my local friends. If you live near me expect an invite soon. If your kiddo is creative, have them submit their ideas online and maybe they will get a cool chance to make it come true.

Here are all the details straight from Lunchables:

Q: What is the CBY contest?

A: We want to help kids realize their creative dreams! We’re asking kids to tell us their big idea for a movie, song or video game for a chance to work with a pro, like Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers band, to bring it to life. The kids at your party can learn more and enter the Created by You contest by visiting Lunchables.com and clicking the “Created By You” icon.

Q: Who can enter?

A: The contest is open to residents of the 50 United States and D.C., 6 to 13 years of age as of August 2, 2010. To enter the Created by You contest, by visit Lunchables.com and click the “Created By You” icon.

Q: What are the prizes?

A: The three Grand Prizes winners (one per entry category) will win a Trip for up to three people to meet with  the professional mentor in their category. The  winners will also see their idea come to live as  either a Movie, Song or Video Game in 2011.  Full rules can be found at Lunchables.com

Q: What is the entry period?

A: Kids can enter beginning at 12:01 am ET on August 2, 2010 through 11:59 pm ET April 31, 2011.

Q: What is the website people can go to enter?

A: To enter the Created by You contest, by visit Lunchables.com and click the “Created By You” icon.

*Yes, this is the disclosure part: I have an ongoing blogger relationship with Oscar Mayer. I am compensated in a variety of ways for my involvement in their campaigns.

Disneyland 4th Annual Not Back to School Days Rally and Home Education Conference

I always like to let you all know when this event is coming up. We went to the Disney Youth Education Classes the first year this organization held this event. Sadly, we haven’t been able to make it back since but I hear it just gets better every year. Plan to go if you can. It is really well worth it!

The committee has arranged special workshops for home educated students during the rally week in the area of instrumental, vocal, dance, and theater. All classes are taught by Disney professionals and the classes are customized for our attendees. Please check out the various workshops and the audition guidelines on our website and apply TODAY:


JUST THREE DAYS LEFT TO SAVE – The audition deadline for the Disney Performing Arts workshops has been extended to APRIL 15TH – so get your group or homeschool individual on video and send the video (do NOT send a link to youtube) to the following email address for immediate consideration:

All are invited to attend the Official 4th Annual Not Back to School Days Rally and Home Education Conference – September 8-11, at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Home education is truly a cause for celebration, and the Disneyland Resort is a great place to celebrate!

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION PRICING WILL END April 15th. Classes fill up fast, so get registered today! Late registrations will be accepted, but are based on availability.

You must be a registered attendee to take advantage of the group rates on park hoppers, food and concessions at the rally, dances and group activities, to participate in conference workshops, or take part in the outstanding field trip classes taught right inside the theme parks. From physics to art, math to history, and even performing arts like dance, vocal, instrumental, and theater classes – kids and parents of all ages can get set for a week long field trip of a lifetime. You are not required to stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel but you must be a registered attendee to take advantage of the group rate for the hotel.

Visit our website today for more information, www.notbacktoschooldays.com and for additional questions you will find quick links on the left side navigator bar to download the complete info packet, sign up for newsletter updates, join our Facebook fan page, and read the discussion boards. Be sure to sign up for at least one of these venues to keep up with the latest announcements – some offers are gone rather quickly.

This rally and conference is a national event – open to ALL home educators, including your extended family. It is an excellent way to show the fruits of homeschooling to anyone so bring those inquisitive or skeptical friends. Homeschool group leaders contact us for special discounts on 15 or more families.

Come and make the Official Not Back to School Days Rally part of your homeschool tradition!
Many blessings to your family,
2010 Not Back to School Days Committee

Peer Pressure in Home Schooling – I Mean…Really?

I was very happy to connect with Beth and more than pleased to have her cover this topic here. I know I have participated in more than a few “what are you doing” conversations in my parenting time. For a homeschool mom I sure haven’t been writing much on the subject lately. I have, however, been noodling some posts I want to write soon on all the different ideologies and philosophies that have phased in and out of my kids education. But until the noodles cook into a good post, read what Beth has to say on the pressure us moms (and dads) can go through.

Beth, a home school mom and teacher, lives with her adorable son and yummy chef husband on Johns Island, SC. She loves her life and sharing her time and energy with parents and kids as they home school. She currently has two blogs, www.classesbybeth.blogspot.com (home school) and Every Spiritual Blessing at www.bethhempton.blogspot.com where she currently features excerpts from her upcoming book.

Peer Pressure in Home Schooling – I Mean…Really?

How many homeschool moms does it take to choose curriculum for one child?

One, but only after she has surveyed at least a dozen other moms for their opinions!

Peer pressure runs rampant in home school circles even though it is only discussed in hushed tones and whispers because we really don’t want to admit it exists. However, we have a responsibility to expose it for what it is! :) I’m not referring to peer pressure among our teens and students. I’m concerned about the peer pressure among our moms!

All joking aside, I first began to realize that that peer pressure existed when I started attending home school support group meetings over a decade ago. Having previously taught in a private school, it took me by surprise to discover that home school moms aren’t overly confident. They are bold in standing up to the government and school boards, unsupportive family members and friends, but struggle with making serious decisions for their home schools and their children without seeking out their peers. In some situations, it seemed that even spouses were considered less influential than other home school moms!  Consider the following:

  • Reasons for home schooling – A few years ago, one of our local private schools lost a significant number of families to home schooling. When I spoke with some of the moms, I discovered that at least a portion of them had decided to home school because other families were taking that route in response to a disagreement with the school headmaster. At that time, I wondered how many would home school for more than a year. By the next year, several of thsoe families returned to the school because they didn’t realize what they were getting into with home schooling. They didn’t really comprehend the absolute commitment required! Reasons for home schooling need to be personally grounded within your family. It is definitely not the time to try to keep up with the Jones’!
  • Number of children – As a mother of two, I found myself explaining to other moms that I had tried for more children, but God chose to give me two. With so many friends having four or more children, I often felt like that girl who just couldn’t afford the latest fashions. I wanted to be belong, but I really couldn’t make myself like the other moms. I have spoken to other moms with one or two children, and while there are more smaller home school families today, sometimes you feel pressured into a having a larger family or feel less than perfect if you don’t.
  • Curriculum – I have many home school friends with shelves and shelves of curriculum. Every year, they seem to second guess what they previously used. As well, if one mom mentions that she has experienced success with a particular curriculum, ten other moms run out to purchase it. I remember my first curriculum convention in Dallas, Texas. I had taught school for over eight years and I felt extraordinarily overwhelmed by all of the options. I couldn’t imagine how moms without any education experience waded through all of the choices!  I solved this issue for my family by writing my own curriculum. For some families, it may not be a particular curriculum, but rather a teaching philosophy such as unschooling or the Charlotte Mason method. I belong to several small groups online designed for those who follow CM methods. Early on, I noticed that many of the moms really didn’t understand CM or what she espoused, but like the “idea” of CM because they had friends in the small group. For some, it could lead to a better understanding, but for others, the time might be better spent.
  • Scheduling – As a mom who is considered experienced, I often get asked about how we schedule our day. This question comes up every year in our support group and I am always surprised that families struggle with how to schedule their school day. I wonder how they scheduled their lives before home schooling. Did they ask their neighbors or family members when they ate meals, bathed, did yard work etc? I doubt it! My advice when moms ask is to design a schedule that fits your family’s values and lifestyle. Many home school families have unique situations like a parent that works at night or a parent with a chronic illness. No single schedule works for everyone and trying to adapt your family to the majority may only cause frustration.
  • Outside activities – You have probably laughed when people ask about your children being socialized. If anything, it seems like homeschoolers socialize in relevant ways more than most kids. Our kids don’t just go to outside classes together, they do service projects, athletics, holiday parties, field trips and more! Since they don’t spend all day with their friends, this time together is even more valued. However, the peer pressure issue bubbles up when moms start talking about what their children do outside of home schooling. So many moms feel pressured to not allow their children to miss out on any experience. I often hear moms complain about schooling in the car because they have so many activities and classes for their children. I teach classes in literature, history and writing. While I encourage parents who need my expertise to put their children in my classes, I don’t think that my classes are for every child. I have noted that in the past, I have greater enrollment among moms who know one another and discuss my courses. On the surface, that sounds wonderful, but the key to all of it is the motivation behind attending my courses. I’ve had parents want to enroll students when they’ve already had the subject matter in another way simply because other friends have enrolled their children. Over-scheduling our children because other families do so ultimately results in frustration and fatigue for both you and your children.

Please don’t get me wrong…I believe that supporting one another through home schooling makes so much sense. There’s a great deal of anxiety related to being solely responsible for our children, but faith in the fact that we were meant to teach our children and no one else could love them more should be our primary focus!

Have you had times when you felt pressured to do certain things or behave in a certain way as a home school parent? Or do you think I’m completely off base? I’d love to hear from you either way!