The ‘Z’ Sound of ‘S’ or Why We Unschool

You may have noticed the name of the blog: Melissaz Wordz. I love changing esses to zees when they make the ‘z’ sound.

In school I learned the letter ‘c’ made two sounds: the soft ‘c’ as in ceiling (sounds like an ‘s’), and the hard ‘c’ as in cat (sounds like a ‘k’.)

In school we also learn the letter ‘g’ has two sounds, soft like a ‘j’ in works like giraffe, and hard ‘g’ in girl.

Y can make three sounds: yellow, friendly (ee sound) and by (long i sound.)

But no one ever said or taught that ‘s’ has two sounds. Did you learn it? I expect not simply because they wouldn’t be able to say that the ‘c’ sometimes sounds like ‘s’. They’d have to say which ‘s’, and no one ever does.

In fact it was when my daughter was about 6 or 7 that she pointed it out to me, and I almost told her she was wrong. Why? Because not only didn’t I learn it but the Calvert Learning Guide Manual I was using at the time didn’t mention it either.

We homeschool and before I realized it was best to chuck the curriculum we used the Calvert curriculum (loosely, we’ve never been they type to follow any curriculum rigidly), provided by the  Pennsylvania Cyber Charter school. In fact the reason we joined this particular cyber school was because they offered this time-tested curriculum, and I didn’t have to use the school’s computer-based curriculum (I am not a fan of kids in front of computers.)

So as I was introducing the lesson about letters such as ‘c’ and ‘g’  making hard and soft sounds, she piped in, “and ‘s’!” And I said, “No, ‘s’ makes the ‘ssssss’ sound.”

“And ‘zzz’ too though,” she said.

“No….wait, what?”

“Like in ‘is’, ‘has’, and ‘these’, those are esses, right? But they sound like ‘zzz’. ”

She was absolutely right. Even though it didn’t say it anywhere in the curriculum and it took my adult mind a few minutes to wrap myself around it. All my life and I would never have said that ‘s’ has a hard and soft sound. But there it iz. What else had I been missing?

And so that is when I decided to stop trying to teach her stuff all the time. Instead I try to sit back and watch, and maybe learn a thing or two (or ten thousand), from her.


Ten Life Lessons From My 1992 Herbal Apprenticeship

In 1992 I was an herbal apprentice for three months for a self-identified Green Witch. While I did learn quite a bit about how to identify and use wild plants for medicine and food, I learned these life lessons as well.

  1. When someone doesn’t do something exactly as you want it done: rage. Throw things at them. Insult them. Scream. Get your emotions out, it isn’t healthy to keep things bottled up.
  2. Never tell people exactly how you want things done.
  3. Make people pay money to work for you. Set the fee for the apprenticeship twice as high as you want it to be. Then let apprentices work half of it off by working for you at $10 an hour.
  4. Never give discounts to friends and family. You’d have tons of ex-lovers wanting something from you. Just don’t do it. Ever.
  5. Do give  full scholarships to women of color. It would be racist not to.
  6. Never clean. That’s what apprentices are for. And if it’s only December and your apprentice doesn’t arrive until mid March or April so much the better. Then they’ll have something to do the minute they arrive. “You want to move into this room? Dig it out.”
  7. Ignore people who arrive early. They are encroaching on your time. Why should you alter your day and give up your time for people rude enough to arrive before they are due.
  8. Never make things comfortable for others. You’ll create co-dependence and people come to expect things from you. If someone wants a pillow to sit on or a blanket to keep themselves warm, let them figure out if these are available and get them themselves.
  9. Don’t answer the phone unless it’s Wednesday. This was a big one in 1992. No cell phones, no mobile devices. No texting. Just the ring ring ring of a house phone. Let the answering machine pick up. Unless it’s Wednesday.
  10. A pair of geese make better guard dogs than dogs. You can eat the eggs and they won’t eat your goats.

Why I’m Here

Hi! My name is Melissa. I am a writer, illustrator, blogger (of other blogs), forager, teacher, homeschooler, lifelong learner, natural parent, acupuncturist, herbalist, massage therapist, mama. I’m also a vegetarian, into raw foods (sometimes), and love nature, nature journaling, birding, astronomy and general star gazing (especially with binoculars but also without). I have trouble keeping my house clean, neat and uncluttered, and not overeating. (Wooh, this is bordering on the confessional!)


I’ve started other blogs but my interests are so varied and jumbled…it’s hard to keep so many different blogs for every aspect of my life! I have one on wild foods, one on acupuncture, one on homeschooling, one on writing and illustrating, one on birding, one on juicing, one on running, one for a sketch a day…you see? It would just be so nice to sit down every day and blog about whatever I am doing that day (or week or month.) Learning computer programming…I’ll blog about that! Went for a bike ride and photographed some bald eagles, put that in! Working on a short story…sure, why not! All in the same blog!

So perhaps there is no niche and my blog won’t be a best selling million dollar making start-up company of its own, but really, I just want a place to work out my stuff.

Why in public? Why not in a journal? Believe me, I keep a million journals! Perhaps this will be more journaling than blogging and I’ll take it down. But there’s something about “putting it out there,” …I do have fear around that. Fear of being exposed, criticized, having my ideas or artwork stolen, etc. I have tons of ideas and spurts and starts and unfortunately also lots of loose ends and petering out. So I’m just going to try it, what the heck.

This blog is about all the thoughts, ideas, interests, pursuits, I have going on in my head and in my life.