Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WIP Wednesday: A Long Story and a Manifesto on Apples

So I write sometimes for Crafting a Green World or Eco Child's Play, both part of the Green Options blog system. They don't pay much (duh, it's blogging, and not about politics or the economy, either), but they pay a little, which gives me a little play money each month for art supplies and presents, and I enjoy the comments, exposure, world-wide acclaim, etc.

Anyway, back in July, the general manager of Green Options offered a $500 bonus to anyone who reached 40 posts that month. Dudes, 40 posts is a LOT, but, you know, so is $500. There are some pretty sweet toys that I could buy with an unexpected $500, including one Cricut machine, which is a plaything so utterly ridiculous that I'm embarrassed to even want it and would certainly never buy it with my real money, but hey, I've seen too many of those Cricut infomercials late at night at my parents' house and I TOTALLY want one.

They have a die-cut cartridge that will do all the states! And one that makes all kinds of cards and envelopes! It's like heroin for crafters!

I worked my butt off in July writing those damn posts. I wrote tutorials, and editorials, and round-ups, and reviews, and then more tutorials, editorials, round-ups, and reviews. I wrote early in the morning, I wrote while the girls ate lunch, I wrote while Matt got them ready for bed at night, I wrote late at night, and then I wrote early the next morning.

Oh, and I also parented. And did a craft fair. And lost my BlogHer account because I wouldn't censor out a photo of Syd's butt covered with paint (and THAT'S a whole other story, let me tell you, and don't even get me started about freedom of speech and the sexualization of children and hyper-parenting). And hosted a birthday party. And went on vacation. During which time I wrote posts in the airport during layovers to post when we arrived, and I wrote posts early in the morning and late at night at my in-laws' house in California. Without wi-fi. While parenting. And vacationing.

Anyway, I wrote a lot of posts. Wrote a lot of posts while thinking about my bonus.

So two days before the end of July, still having two or three more posts to write before I hit my golden 40, all the writers got the same mass email from the general manager of Green Options, all "blah blah blah and because of the unprecedented response I'm going to have to end the bonus after the next person blah blah blah." And don't worry, because I wasn't that next person.
I wrote my posts, anyway, just in case, and then I sulked. And stewed. And I was angry. And pissed. And lots of other words that describe the anger that one feels when something hateful happens to one. And the whole time, Matt is all, "Dude, you have to speak up for yourself! You have to get aggressive!"

And I'm all, "Nooooooooooooo! I hate confrontation!" (And I do. Can't even watch it on TV. Used to have to mute The Real World New Orleans.)

But then the next month, I totally can't get up the energy to write my regular posts for Crafting a Green World. I mean, I'm going to let them screw me over and then just act like nothing happened? Get me to do a lot of extra work to boost their posting for one month and let them not even pay me what they promised? And then maybe try real hard for the million dollar bonus opportunity that will maybe come out in a few months?

And the whole time, Matt is all, "Dude, you have to speak up for yourself!"

So I finally do. I write an email to the general manager, and the editors, and the guy who used to own the blog system but sold it and is now their consultant, and I told them that I was promised a certain amount of money for doing a certain amount of work in a certain amount of time, and I did that work, and I did not receive the money, and maybe it was legal but it wasn't ethical, and without that bonus they could consider this my letter of resignation.

And then I wrote one of the forums that I belong to of fellow Green Options bloggers, because I wanted to explain where I went if they never heard from me again, and I copied the email that I sent to the general manager.

Turns out there were some other people who were pretty upset about not receiving their earned bonuses, either, and some other people who weren't trying for the bonus but were pretty upset to hear how those of us who were got conned, and one person who wrote all the posts for the bonus but somehow missed the email announcing the cancellation of the bonus and, since we have a Net-60 pay period, was just sort of blithely awaiting her extra $500 the next month.

Some of these people emailed the general manager, as well.

And what was my reward for sticking up for myself? Other than feeling MUCH better after I had done so, which Matt told me I would and I can't believe I waited so long before listening to him? Well, there was an email from the general manager, addressed to I guess everyone who wrote him to complain, announcing that he would investigate the "confusion."

And then, the next week, with no further explanation (none needed), was the transfer into my Paypal account of my $500.

And that's why I have a Cricut now.

Do you want to know what the point of that story was? I swear, it had a point. The point is this:

The girls and I are making books about apples: Here is the cover of my book:
In case you were wondering where I got all those nice and neat die-cuts, I made them on my brand-new Cricut.

So, apple books...Being ever more certain that we'll homeschool next year (love Montessori, are not willing to subsist on store-brand Saltines and white rice to afford Montessori), I've been sort of consciously practicing some ideas that I might want to implement more studiously when we do so. Nice to have plenty of time to play around with strategies, you know.

One of the things I've been thinking about is how to measure learning and performance and mastery and accomplishment, etc. Grades and testing are cookie cutter measures, obviously, designed so that a teacher can evaluate and compare students efficiently. In the larger perspective, however, they are meaningless--they bring no meaning to what has been done, allow no retrospection of the journey undertaken or its significance to one's life.

As far as measurement goes, then, I vastly prefer the portfolio method of the girls' Montessori school. The portfolio, however, really consists of mere snapshots of a child's overall undertakings--a worksheet here, some photos there, a self-portrait on the cover. I'd like something that better demonstrates the depth of one's study, that is creative, that allows the student to show real expertise.

So the girls and I are playing with the idea of making books about what we're studying and doing together. I'm imagining that each book will be thematic, and will incorporate the variety of projects and studies that we've done under this theme--this is less unschooling, and more unit study. I'm surprised, because I thought I would be an unschooler, but in the practicalities of each scenario, I tend to drift towards unit study with self-made curricula.

I'm playing with the idea of making my book (because of course I have to make a book, too--it looks fun!) a sort of project book, how-to book, not quite a lesson plan book, but if you want to dry apples on dowels or make a freaky apple-head doll, here's how to do it. Oh, and here's a list of some read-aloud books that are pretty awesome, too.

It might be nice to sell such a book as a little homeschool zine, but it also might be nice just to keep, too. The girls will have their records of being homeschool kids, and I'll have mine of being a homeschool momma.


Kimberly said...

I have a baby cricut (the 6x12 as opposed to the 12x12). I love it. I don't use it as much as I used to, but whenever I do, I'm giddy and happy. It's so much fun!

kirsten said...

way to go! see, you never know what effect you can have for others, too, when you speak your mind.

And I'm already all mad and nauseus from a horrendous confrontation with a neighbor last night (so please ignore any bad grammar and punctuation), so i'm so glad you spoke your mind AND got what you wanted!

Abby said...

you will be a GREAT homeschool mom.

i'm crossing my fingers for the project school.