Friday, January 31, 2014

Marinating in God's word... SOAP our way through the bible

My 3 daughters and I have a passion for studying the bible together. It's been a bit hard to find a way to do this that works well for all of us and isn't over any ones head because of the age differences, but we have found a great way to bring us all together to do so. We have even made it so that my 4 year old can enjoy the time with us!
** side note. I don't require any of the kids to do this with me. I had invited them to join me once (totally no pressure at all) and they wanted to keep on going.

The S.O.A.P bible study method:




S.O.A.P Bible Study Method

S: The S stands for Scripture.
What does it say? Underline, mark, or physically write out the scripture verse or verses that stuck out to you in your reading.

O: The O stands for observation 
What do you see in the verses that you are reading? What words stand out to you? What struck you and caught your attention?

A: The A stands for application                                                                Personalize what you have read by asking yourself things like. How does this apply to my life right now? Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write out how this scripture can apply to you. 
P: This stands for Prayer                                                            This can be as simple as asking God to help you use the scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. 
___________
In practice, how that tends to look here is:
1. We follow the same bible reading plan. (We are using this one). We read from the OT on weekends and the NT on weekdays. 
2. The two older girls and I either read from our own bibles quietly in the same room together, or we read them separately and meet up together at some point in the day or night. We try to do this daily together but some days that doesn't work out. So sometimes I'm doing it solo. Totally cool with me. I never want reading the bible to feel like a chore or obligation for them. 
3. We usually read some background info together, from a study bible or Student bible before we jump in. And may read some of the interspersed questions from the study bible after we've read the selection. It's so wonderful to hear what the bible says to each of my girls. I've learned so much from glorious discussions with them. 
4. My 4 year old really really loves doing bible study. She asks daily to do it. Usually it's the first thing she says each morning after "good morning". :-) The adjustments I've made for her are:   
  • She uses an older bible that I no longer read from. In it she likes to color with colored pencils. Sort of like a highlighting of the words kind of deal. (The older girls and I use colored pencils in our bibles and mark with symbols too). 
  • She's huge into tracing words these days with markers. You can always find her with a sharpie and some written word she's tracing. So branching off that I wrote the name of the bible book we are reading in block letters a few times for her trace over with her favorite metallic sharpie. 
  • I went online and found pictures, and words, some in color, some black and white, relating to the bible book the older girls and I are studying. I save them into one place and print out a sheet for her. She colors anything she wants on it. And then cuts and glues the pictures and words into her own bible journal. 
  • And she takes part in our conversation as we talk about how the scripture spoke to each of us.                                                                                                 
  • She and my son also have bibles geared for younger kids. And both of them like the new bible app by You Version for kids. They have that on their tablets. He's not interested right now in participating with myself and the girls. Totally cool and fine with that. 

Wishing you and your family a lovely time and many blessings!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Radical Unschooling is it Unparenting?

My friend Rachel, a very lovely lady, also a fellow Radical Christian Unschooling Mom, inspired me to come out of hibernation and write this post. (Hi Rachel, if you're reading)

Rachel, like myself, has had some experience with folks who label themselves as Radical Unschoolers, but were most clearly not at all Radical Unschooling parents, and most definitely Unparenting.

If you do a web search on Radical Unschooling/Unparenting. You find quite a few forum discussions, blog posts and articles that also maintain that the two are in fact the same. And a laundry list of why people think it's a bad path to follow because of the out of control/disrespectful kids it produces.

So is Radical Unschooing the same thing as Unparenting? 
Well, as a Radical unschooling Mom ... I'd say a big huge resounding "Nooooo way"!

I think people that confuse the two terms have perhaps had the unfortunate encounters, such as myself and Rachel have, around other people who call themselves radical unschoolers, but what they are doing is permissiveness (or unparenting).
People who have no idea what Radical Unschooling is, they base their opinions off either actual encounters with someone who claims to be an unschooling family. Maybe off blog posts of people who tried it for a week. Homeschool forum conversations with others who have either had an encounter themselves or heard about someone who heard about someone who had a bad encounter with someone who claims they were a Radical Unschooler. :-) Or maybe they have been misinformed from someone who professes to be a radical unschooling expert but encourages a "screw everyone else" attitude of child rearing. And that scares people. Most people don't want to raise a hell raiser. Most people want to raise loving, compassionate, kind children. They just can't see how that can happen when an impression is given that "kids do anything they want".

Types of parenting: 
Dr. Thomas Gordon talks about 3 most common types of parents in his book Parent Effectiveness Training, he calls them "the winners", "the losers", and the "oscillators". He describes them as follows:

  • The Winners - (Also known as authoritarian) "These are parents who strongly defend and persuasively justify their right to exercise authority of power over the child. They believe in restricting, setting limits, demanding certain behaviors, giving commands, and expecting obedience. They use threats of punishment to influence the child to obey, and mete out punishments when he/she does not. When conflict arises between the needs of the parents and those of the child, these parents consistently resolve the conflict in such a way that the parent wins and the child loses."
  • The Losers: "Allow their children a great deal of freedom most of the time. They consciously avoid setting limits and proudly admit that they do not condone authoritarian methods. When conflict occurs between the needs of the parent and those of the child, rather consistently it is the child who wins and the parent who loses, because such parents believe it is harmful to frustrate a child's needs."
  • The Oscillators: This group, Dr. Gordon says makes up the largest group of parents. Those who go back and fourth between the two types of parenting. He has a quote in his book from a Mom who is an oscillator: "I try to be permissive with my children until they get so bad I can't stand them. Then I feel I have to change and start using my authority until I get so strict I can't stand myself."
Those are not the only ways to parent. But they are the ways most people are familiar with. None of the above describes what parenting in a Radical Unschooling family looks like. 

I love this quote by Alfie Kohn: 
"Parents who seem oblivious to how their children are annoying strangers and getting into mischief are often equally oblivious to their children's needs." 
If I could expound more on this quote as it relates to Radical unschooling specifically I would say... Parents who seem oblivious to their kids following the rules/guidelines of the library, restaurant, movie theater, museum, or respecting the feelings and boundaries of other people, are not Radically unschooling, and you should stop telling people that's what you are doing.  

I've seen parents in person who claim to be radical unschoolers, where the kids are rude and thumb their nose at you when you ask them not to do something that is bothering someone else. The parents are rude. The Kids are rude. The parents also thumb their nose at anything they feel is "a rule". They want to be rebels and they want to answer to no authority. They breed this "attitude" at home within their families. They teach discourtesy and inconsideration. They believe that they are bound by no rules or restrictions of society. They don't have consideration for people around them. And so neither do their kids. 
But to be fair. I've also seen plenty of non-homeschooling kids and parents act the very same way as well. It's just not talked about because it's the "norm" for kids to be in public schools. 

So how does it look at my house... if it's not Unparenting... what is it?
At it's very core in our family we most simply live in consideration of each other. When you are considerate of each other, not only does it allow for amazing relationships. But people help each other because people who love and care for each other do kind things for one another all the time, not out of obligation, force or fear, but out of love. 

And I'll go a step further and say that as a Christian. One of the ways I show Jesus to others through my own actions and behaviors, is through loving acts of service. The simplest gesture can be a loving act of service. I want to show Jesus to my children through my behaviors. Think on the example of how a loving wife is happy to do kind things for her husband, for no other reason than love. And extend that to relationships within the entire family. Loving acts of service done for one another all the time, kids for parents, parents for kids. Just simply because the family loves and cares for one another. For me, this is the very essence of Radical Unschooling in our family. 

No one needs to be bossed around or ordered. There isn't a need when people talk to and treat each other respectfully. Think how you talk to a friend. If you talk to your kids differently than how you treat a friend, like down to them, or like they are less than, or dismissively. That's not very respectful, and you wouldn't talk to a friend that way. Kids are learning to navigate this world. Our job as parents is to be a loving guide. Not put the "fear of God into them" as I've heard people say. And equally importantly it's not to raise them toward focusing only on themselves where everyone else and their needs are of no importance. If you are raising kids that no one wants to be around. You are doing them such a huge disservice. 

An example of consideration in our house. My kids (12, 10, 7, 4) are free to eat anything we have in the house, anytime they are hungry. They don't have to ask permission to have it. I have told them that in the past. Sure by all means... help yourself... you don't have to ask me first. 
And do you know that every one of my kids will ask first, "Is it okay if I have? or Can I have?" before taking something. That's not "training" or because I insist, or because they fear me. That is out of consideration on many levels. 
Consideration for reasons such as:
  • Might we be going out to eat?
  • Might I need the item for a recipe I'm cooking?
  • Is it close to dinner or lunch that I may be making (and they'd rather wait)?
  • Is it the last one of something? And they want to make sure no one else had their heart set on it, or was saving it?
  • Did everyone (who wanted some) get to have some before I have seconds or thirds or finish it off?
The respect and consideration we show each other extends outside of our house and our family. Bry and I model respect and consideration for other people, in their homes, in their businesses, etc. If you are not a considerate adult... like behind closed doors you're disrespectful and talk down to your kids and your spouse, yet out in the world you model consideration for others. You send all kind of mucked up messages to your kids. One of which is "Mom or Dad is fake fake fake." And you will not only lose face with them as they grow up and maybe wish to call you on it as they get older. But there goes the whole live what you want your kids to learn, flying right out the window. 
Don't expect them to live out something you can't model for them. They learn by watching you. 

Ultimately I think people who are parenting badly sometimes glam on to the label of Radical Unschooling. Maybe they think it sounds cool. Maybe someone who was doing it as a way to "thumb the man" told them about it. And they thought it sounded like a good label to use. I would encourage people to not rely on those negatives as examples of radical unschoolers. Read, writings of those with grown Radically Unschooled children, like Sandra Dodd, Joyce Fetteroll, Pam Laricchia. And from a Mom and her family whom I've had the pleasure to met in person, Jennifer McGrail, who's oldest is 17 as of this post. 
This may not be a homeschool/lifestyle choice you wish to pursue. But if you do. It's a wonderful way to live life with your family. 

Blessings to you and yours. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 2013

It's been a bit since I've blogged. Time... perhaps... interest, maybe.. maybe nothing much to say about our radical unschooling lifestyles that's not covered so beautifully by so many wonderful voices already.

A cool thing that we got to experience recently was meeting the lovely Jennifer of The Path Less Taken, and her family, when they came to town in August. Her blog is such a great resource for any homeschooler but especially those who wonder how a Christian can possibly unschool. She's also putting on an unschooling conference which sounds great!

What sparked me to pop back to post....
Recently a delightful Mom sent me an email through the Robinson article I have up. She was asking me about math. The questions she had for me, I was really struggling to answer. I couldn't relate to the questions she had anymore.

Just last night I received a couple emails from friends that I used to post along side in a curriculum based homeschool forum. It was lovely to hear from them. One sweet lady said that a Mom there was asking after me. I popped in really quick and took a peak. What I noticed in a quick once over was familiar topics in most homeschool forums. The titles were things like, guidance on trying something new, asking about what to use for a specific subject, asking how to make something work that doesn't fit their kids, asking if they are doing enough, how long a homeschool day should be, what to do if their kids are behind, how to catch them up, and well so many questions along those lines.

I've noticed now, how I have a really hard time engaging in online and face to face conversations that are about curriculum, classes, and things of that nature. Not in a rude or dismissive way of course. Just in a way where I honestly am not able to mentally connect to that place in myself anymore. It's no longer our "world" so to speak, anymore. And I have a hard time remembering back to when it was.

Not saying that a more traditional school at home mindset is bad or less than. Or that I am judging in any way. But when you step out. And you fully embrace unschooling and you are living it. You almost can't reconcile in your mind, doing those things, when unschooling has far surpassed anything you had been doing before. And we had tried a lot of stuff before. Since coming to unschooling I haven't had any worries about my kids being behind or missing anything or gaps. I haven't had the thoughts anymore of "what should I try next, because such and such didn't work out". Those questions truly don't come up anymore. Perhaps it's because unschooling is such a total mind shift. When you see everything as learning, every interest your child has as valuable, it really opens up a whole new avenue and experience for the family.

In reflection, there are some things that have changed in me from when we first were coming to unschooling. For example food controls (as in me having a set of ingredient standards) that I wanted there before adding that food to our shopping cart.
A few years back you would have never found something like a Poptart in our pantry, but a healthy alternative. Now if you look you will find many boxes in varying flavors. But as I sit and type this... most of those boxes have been there many weeks, if not longer. The kids don't have any limits on when they can eat them or how many, etc. But they just haven't been in the mood for one. When you know you can have something to eat whenever you want it. The, 'gorge myself on it because I don't know when I'll get it again' line of thinking, it just doesn't have reason to exist.

I have seen time and time again... in my children, who have no food restrictions whatsoever, decline sweets, set aside cupcakes to eat a sandwich, take one lick of lollipops and toss the rest, and so on. An apple or a turkey sandwich is just as appealing to them as a chocolate bar. It's true.. it really happens, not just with my kids, but in radical unschooling homes across the world over.
When kids get to listen to their bodies, are allowed to eat when they are hungry, not when an adult tells them it's meal time. And eat what they truly are in the mood for, not a food that someone has chosen for them. Truly... it's a gift you give them. A gift of not having to be food or diet focused as they grow up.
For anyone who wonders how this can be... I highly recommend this book: Kids, Carrots and Candy. Also by the authors is a great book geared for adults called Overcoming Overeating. If you've ever dieted... or said you were fat... or didn't like the way you look... fantastic book!
Controlling food is something a lot of parents believe they have to do. Sandra Dodd has a great page on Myths parents believe and another If I let him... both I highly recommend reading.

So what we have been up to lately...Things the kids have been interested in and passionate about:

Skylar almost 12:
Is interested in being a make up artist. We've been supporting her interest.
She also does things like watches You Tube videos of make up collections, reviews, and tutorials.
Has built up a make up collection.
Experiments with make up applications.
Plays app based games that involve make up application, hair, fashion and so on.
She reads reviews. Reads safety ratings. Compares prices.
Makes her own make up. Practices make up application on her sisters.
Recently took a free 6 week make up artist class online.
She ticks a horde of subject boxes by pursuing something she feels a real passion for.
She reads a lot. Not just about make up. But she is into scary books and also horror movies.
She taught herself to swim... all by herself....with Bry and I solely in a support role for her if/when she wanted help.
She just redecorated a room to make it feel more cozy and to have it as a hang out space.
She put together her own costume for Halloween.
She and Summer both play some online games.

Summer almost 10:
Taught herself to sew watching You Tube videos. Also helped big sister learn.
She's made pillows for everyone in the family. Sewn some Monster high doll clothes.
And may start to sew some of her own clothes once she feels more comfortable with her sewing machine.
She has a guitar and my husband is helping her with that.
She is creating her own Halloween costume instead of wanting to buy one this year.
She enjoys playing fashion design apps. Quite a bit of math in those apps.
Summer likes the scary shows too. She's into reading Goosebumps book. And she is a devoted email pen pal. It's one of her favorite ways to connect with friends.
She also is into researching make up, creating looks, and creating fashions.
She loves watching prank videos on You Tube. Nikki and John are one of her favorites.

Decklin almost 7:
He enjoys toy guns and sword play. Hordes of fun for him is running about playing out cool battle scenes with one of us or with friends. He plays video games with any of us too or sometimes he likes to play solo. Many times on the weekend, he and my husband will take some time together to play a video game. Their teamwork and camaraderie is really cool to watch. It's connection, great times, talking, laughing... just so different than what mainstream media says about a child and video games.
He likes Phineas and Ferb, Wild Kratts, and sometimes Drake and Josh.
He has gotten into legos, but especially still loves his Bristle blocks. He builds a lot of ships with them. And he enjoys hanging with some friends at the park weekly.

Ember 4:
She really enjoys the show Victorious. She has fun singing and dancing. And putting together new fashion looks with her clothes. She also has compiled quite a make up collection. She recently asked for some new clothes and helped me do some online shopping where she picked out all her own stuff. She plays Monster High dolls with the girls. Loves playing run around battle games with Decklin. And having the older girls do her make up for her. She is always a willing make up look test subject.

If you are reading here and ever thought about exploring unschooling. I can't tell you how amazing a way of life this is. How joyful and fulfilling it is, not only for the children but for the family as a whole. A fantastic free six part emails series to help you explore unschooling can be found here.




Monday, December 17, 2012

Parent like someone is watching.

Last night in Target there was a little girl dancing around in the aisle. She banged into some medication that went everywhere. She stopped and looked at it. Her Mother than came to see what she did (She'd been on the other side of the aisle). She looks at her, and asks to clean it up. Granted she was speaking a language I couldn't understand. But there was no raised tone to her voice. Nothing that sounded like yelling. And the daughter sang as she put the items back. So it didn't seem as if anything mean had transpired.

At a grocery store one day there was a Mom who spoke so gently and respectfully to her toddlers (who were clearly not happy to be there). I had to comment to her what a wonderful job she was doing, how refreshing it was to hear a Mom speak so lovingly. She was also pregnant. She thanked me for noticing and the encouragement. And said how sometimes it's was hard with being hormonal and tired but how much she tries.

Last week I was at a different Target (hum... It would seem I spend a lot of time in Target.) And there was a Mom and her maybe 4 year old son at check out. As Mom was checking out the little boy begins to yell as loud as possible about wanting to do something, the something I could not make out. You know the yell where everyone in the store stares at you? What impressed me was how this Mom didn't lose her patience. She bent down, handed him a quarter and explained something special about said quarter. He stopped yelling and held his treasure quietly. When he began to yell again. Mom bent down and told him more things about how they could use this quarter. Which made him quite happy.
I encountered this Mom at the cart return after her son was in the car. I commented how awesome she was with her son and how nice it was that she spoke to him so kindly and didn't yell. She said I was so sweet and smiled from ear to ear. She explained she was not always so gracious in her responses to him.

Anyway what is the point of this post?
Well the point being, someone is always watching, seeing and hearing how you parent. And when you can't physically see another person, God is always watching you.
Something to ask:
1. Would I speak this way to my child in front of a stranger at Target? More so would I speak this way if Jesus was physically next to me?
2. And If I did, what would that stranger think of me? What would Jesus?
3. Would they be so moved at how gently and respectfully I interacted with my child that they would comment on how I kept my cool? Would Jesus give me a high five and say "way to go Mom?"
4. Or would they think, ugh this Mom was so mean, how sad for her children?

And yes I know we are not supposed to judge other people. But like it or not it happens. People base an opinion on you based on those few minutes they see of you. That's all they have.

So with that in mind. Why not show your gentle parenting in its full glory as you are out and about with your kids this holiday season?

Parent like someone is always watching because someone is always watching, one of your other children, your spouse, a stranger, God.

Some reading:
http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/changing%20parenting/mindfulreplacements.html

http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/parenting/

http://aradicalpath.com/

http://www.parentingwildthings.com/

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Keeping Christmas meaningful and budget friendly

There was a really great post a few weeks back in a Christian Unschooling group I'm a part of. It was by a Mom named Bree. I really appreciated her approach to Christmas and birthdays. I shared it with friends and family. And I thought posting it here would be a good idea just in case I happen to lose it before next year. For those who are just starting their holiday shopping I hope this comes at a great time and maybe offers an idea of how to simplify, especially for those of us with large families who do live on a budget.


Each of our kids get 3 gifts for Christmas. One that represents Gold, one for frankincense and one for myrrh. 
The Gold gift is their big gift - something they want. 
The frankincense gift is something to bring them closer to God (a Bible, DVD, Pendant). 
The Myrrh is something to "anoint" their body with. (We used to do lotions/bath stuff, but in recent years we've done switched to actual clothes as it's more practical).

For birthdays our kids each get:
Something you want.
Something you need.
Something to play (a game).
Something to read (books, magazines, etc.)
~Bree~ 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

This is a post I made on facebook on Halloween night. I wanted to re-post it here. I have fixed typos, and removed last names of friends and family and added things I had forgotten:

On this Halloween night, I don't really care about candy and costumes. I don't care about elections, or politics. I care about this hurricane and what it has done. I care about a Mom in Jersey who lost her 2 and 4 year old babies.
About my Aunt in Long Island who I have not yet heard from. About my friends and family and their safety. About the people in Queens who lost their homes to fire. About 

the people I don't know who have lost everything.

I think about fun times in A.C. with Uncle Manny and my childhood friend Melanie. I remember the walk we used to make from Uncle Manny's house in Brigantine to the beach with my parents and my brother. The fun treks on the boardwalk with my friend Nicole, in Seaside, even getting to see Bon Jovi there. Spending special days with my high school boyfriend Jimmy at Point Pleasant beach. Spending my 21st birthday out partying with Uncle Manny and my Grandmother in Atlantic City (yes Grandmom could party too). 

My Grandparents had their honeymoon in Atlantic City. My husband and I had our honeymoon at the Jersey shore too. My husband had his first taste of clams on the half shell in seaside. 
I remember the one and only time we were able to bring our older children to the Jersey Shore on a visit back to see my parents. 



My family spent a lot of weekends at the beach when I was a kid, great seafood with my Dad on the boardwalk at Seaside, riding the merry go round, playing in the arcade, eating Kohr's ice cream, so many great memories. Seeing on the TV all of those places torn to shreds is very hard.

My heart goes out to all those who are suffering, those (like my parents who are still without power), those who have lost homes or businesses, those who have lost loved ones. My prayers are with you all.

Please help, give what you can. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monster high - A doll is really just a doll.

I haven't blogged in a few months. But what a better way to post again, than with my two wonderful guests, my daughters Skylar and Summer, sharing in this post with me.

There was a time I was completely anti plastic toys, anti any toys made in China. Over time I realized that to prevent plastic or made in China toys would mean that my kids would be missing out on some really great toys that are out there.
Which brings us to the topic of this post.... Monster High Dolls.
For anyone who isn't familiar with these dolls you can read about them here.

My daughters are soon to be 11 and 9. I can't recall the first doll they got of Monster High. (They are telling me as I write, Dead Tired Frankie and Dawn of the Dance Clawdeen). I can tell you at this point in time they have about 30 or so of these dolls. And more coming for birthday and Christmas gifts.

It's been very interesting to read in my online research the reasons that some Mom's list as negatives of the dolls:

1. I don't like the way they dress.

2. I respect my children far to much to let them play with garbage like this.

3. Real life girls in public school can't dress like this in school.

4. They are ugly.

5. They are scary.

6. They look like a doll the devil would play with.

7.  That they look like girls who would smoke, drink and do drugs.

8. They suck the innocence away from our children.

9. They effect the girls body image views.


The common theme I see among those comments are that they are personal opinions of the Mom's reaction to the dolls. Mom doesn't like how they dress or what they look like. And because of the way they dress, they surely would be the type to drink, smoke and do drugs. Do these Moms not realize that there are tons of well dressed white collar drug addicts here in America? Far more people are doing drugs that look like they never would.
Some of these comments seem to really impress upon a child to judge a book by it's cover. That is exactly what I don't want my children to do.  I can't imagine how a simple doll would suck the innocence from a child. As I read comments like those I can't help but envision a Mom completely disconnected from her child. There must be a disconnection if a doll could come in and completely overtake a child in such a powerful manner. It's much easier to blame a doll for problems than to blame a lacking Mother/daughter relationship.

I thought it'd be fun to sit with my girls an interview them about the dolls:

Me: So what do you like about the Monster high dolls?
Skylar: They are not supposed to be perfect. They are supposed to be imperfect. They aren't all the same, like Barbies. 
Summer: They're pretty. They're different. Pretty because of being different. 

Me: What do you say to Mom's who don't like the way they look or dress? 
Skylar: To them it's supposed to be fashionable because it's "creepy cool". 


Me: When you say creepy cool, what does that mean?
Skylar: Their monsters, they use words like: Clawsome, Fangtastic, Voltageous, and creeparafic. And they take human things and add "monster" stuff in front of them. Like "mad" science, or "dead" languages, or home "ick". And they say fear book instead of year book. And fearleading instead of cheerleading. 


Me: Well what about their short clothing? 
Skylar: Their outfits aren't entirely short. The dolls have long hair which covers them and leggings under their outfits. They are small and skinny because they are teenage girl monsters. 

Me: Why do you prefer playing with them over something like Barbie?
Skylar: I think Barbie is plain and has to be perfect. All the same, same facial expressions, same hair, even if they have different colored skin, still all the same. 
Monster high are all unique, and have abnormal colors of skin and hair. 

Me: What are some of the positive character qualities of the dolls?
Skylar: From the webisodes, Most of them are always nice. They help each other. They stand up to bullies. They care if their hair and make up is messed up, but that's how most people feel, they don't want their hair or make up messed up when they go out somewhere. 

Me: Do the dolls make you think more about the outside appearance being more important than what's on the inside of you? 
Skylar: They absolutely don't. 

Me: Do you think the way they look is realistic, as far as how humans look?
Skylar: Even a two year old knows that's not how people look. 

Me: Do they ever drink, do drugs, or smoke in the webisodes?
Skylar: There is absolutely nothing like that. The only thing they drink is things they get in the cafeteria, water and "monster drinks."

Me: Do you believe monsters are real?
Skylar: No, and they don't act like "monsters". 

Me: When you say act like Monsters, what do you mean?
Skylar: Like in the movies, where Monsters kill and stuff, they don't do any of that. I mean Draculaura is a vegan vampire. 

Me: What do you say to people who say "they look like a doll the devil would play with?"
Skylar: It's just an excuse to not let your children have these dolls. 

Me: When I read you the reasons that Moms don't like these dolls, what do you think?
Skylar: I think you can ask your children if they like them. It should be up to them. It shouldn't be if you like them or not.

Me: Do you find them scary?
Skylar: No, it's supposed to make children not be scared of Monsters.

Me: How would you feel if I said you couldn't have them because they were against the bible?
Skylar: We'd be sad. We brought them to church and Vince (our Pastor) didn't say anything bad about them. He even said he likes Draculaura's hair. 

Me: Have you ever read anything in the bible that makes you think God would frown on you playing with them?
Skylar: No, not at all.  They are just dolls, toys of plastic. 

Me: Do you think grown ups who say the dolls are against the bible use that as an excuse?
Skylar: Yes. 

Me: What about the way they dress, not being in line with the bible?
Skylar: They are dolls. It's not like they are dressing like strippers. They do cover themselves. Even on the beach they have cover ups. 

Me: Why do you think Mattel chooses to dress them the way they do?
Skylar: Because it makes them look different from Barbie. 

Me: Is it fun to play with a doll who dresses a way you wouldn't?
Skylar: Exactly
Summer: Exactly

Me: Do the dolls make you want to wear make up?
Skylar: Um I think every little girls wants to wear make up anyway. 
Summer: I liked make up before these dolls. I'd like to be a make up artist. 

Me: Do you, Skylar, want to wear make up?
Skylar: I don't, I just don't like the way it feels on my skin, it feels weird. But honestly wanting to wear make up is just the nature of a girl. 

Me: Did you know that historically Moms have had a problem with Barbie as well?
Skylar: If you have a problem with Barbie. You have problems yourself. Why say no? Is it because they are jealous that they can't look like a Barbie, "so perfect"? 

Me: That's what they say, that Barbie looks "perfect" and women can't or don't look that way.
Skylar: Why can't your daughter pretend for once in her life, by using a perfect doll. 

Me: Do you think kids play with either Monster High or Barbie and think. I hope I look like that when I grow up?
Skylar:  Even if they do, they will get to a place where they realize that they can't look like that. They are just dolls. The whole purpose of the doll is that your imagination can run wild. You can be someone else. And anything can happen in their world that can't really happen in yours. 

Me: So it's fictional play?
Skylar: Yes

Me: So some Moms have a problem with the fact that they have boyfriends. What can you share about that?
Summer: It's not really their "boyfriend" it's a boy who is a friend. They kiss on the cheek, and they hug sometimes. It's just a best friend that's a boy. 

Me: Do you think it shows that boys and girls can be good friends?
Skylar: Yes
Summer: Yes

Me: So when these dolls date, what is that exactly on the show?
Skylar: They hang out, go to dances, go to parties, and are friends. 

Me: What happens at these parties?
Skylar: They dance and talk. 

Me: What about the Mom who says she respects her children to much to let her kids play with garbage like this?
Skylar: You should let your children decide....that would be true respect. 

Me: Remember when I told you how there was a Mom who said that she didn't like that Ghoulia, the "smart" girl, couldn't walk or talk and had glasses? What do you feel about that? 
Skylar: Actually in her profile, she likes her glasses. She walks slow and holds herself different because she's a zombie. It's harder for her to make facial expressions because she is a zombie. And she talks a zombie language not English. Her mind works faster than her body. Her mind isn't like a zombie mind. 

Me: Ah...so with Ghoulia, she's like not what she appears then? Because inside she's super smart and her brain works super fast, despite being a zombie who most people would think of as slow and maybe even "stupid"?
Skylar: Yes

Me: What about Moms who say the girls are mean to one another on the show?
Skylar: None of them are mean. Cleo is a little bossy, because she's used to getting her way as a princess. Nerfera kinda likes to compete with her sister. And Toralei just likes to play pranks. She's a cat, that's one of her traits. 
Summer: When Toralei was a kitten, she was abandoned and no one taught her right from wrong, no one took care of her. She had to steal what she needed to live. 

Me: I guess you could say that with Toralei they show you the value of having a loving family huh?
Skylar: Uh-huh. 

Me: Has Toraliei changed since coming to the school?
Skylar: Yes, she doesn't steal anymore. 

Me: What other things have sparked your interest based off the dolls?
Skylar and Summer: Classic horror movies, music, dancing, choreography, reading, writing, drawing, making paper dolls, pretend play. 

Me: Thank you girls for taking the time to answer these questions. 
Skylar and Summer: No problem, anytime. :-)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our apps

So I had written out our list of Fire apps for an unschooling Mom on a forum and wanted to share it with another Mom again tonight. And I couldn't find my post. So I figured since I have to retype my list, why not do it here and then I'll always have it when the need might arise that someone else would like to see what apps we have.
Some are obviously geared more towards girls than boys but at this moment I'm lumping them all together in one list. And age range I have is 3 - 10.
Remember to look on Amazon for the free app of the day. That's how we have collected so many.
All the apps with Story in their name are great math (not that I care or focus on that) but some reading this might. And so are the ones with Cafe in the names as well.

Newly added as of 2/14/13: 

  • Golden Eggs
  • Angry Birds Star Wars
  • Candyswipe
  • Ten Monsters Come to Call (this is a book that my 3 year old likes)
  • Sling Bots
  • Zig Zag Zombie
  • Triple Town
  • Trains, Plains and Sea vehicles (toddler puzzles)
  • Moder War
  • Minecraft Pocket Edition
  • My Little Pony
  • Littlest Pet Shop
  • Pin Man (free edition)
  • Cooking Dash
  • Where's My Valentine
  • Happy Poo Jump
  • Jewels Mania
  • Candy Island - The sweet shop
  • My horse
  • Angry Gran Run (super fun game!!)
  • Bubble Birds 3
  • Pinterest (online pin board)
  • Brisksaber 
  • Temple Run 2
  • Extreme Road Trip 2
  • Star Girl


  • Monster Park
  • Monster Shooter
  • Awesome Monster Trucks
  • Monsters vs Humans
  • Style Me Girl
  • Word Search
  • Bubbles Burst
  • Shoot Bubble Deluxe
  • Ultra Dario
  • Jewels Star
  • Skylanders Cloud Patrol (awesome game!!)
  • Slice ice
  • Bridge Constructor
  • Angry Birds Seasons
  • Quell reflect 
  • Poke Fish
  • Fish Farm 
  • Air Penguin
  • Flow Free
  • Bubble Shoot
  • Highway Rider 
  • 100 Floors
  • Fluff Friends Rescue
  • Rotate and Roll free
  • Cows vs Aliens
  • Calculator plus (my girls love calculators)
  • Pix'N Love Rush 
  • Lep's world - My 10 year old loves this game. It's like a Mario game. 
  • Fashion Icon 
  • Ebay (my older two like to price compare here)
  • Email
  • Netflix
  • Amazon (my older two are always reading reviews and researching possible purchases)
  • Memo Calendar (super cool calendar that let's you write or doodle with your finger. The girls wanted a calendar to keep track of when they got their spending money - not earned for any purpose). 
  • Temple Run 
  • Little Girl Magic
  • Monster Pet
  • Pet Cafe
  • Hungry Shark
  • The Secret of Grisley Manor
  • Princess Puzzles
  • Cut the Rope
  • Mini Pets
  • Pix N Love
  • Drawing Pad
  • Pet Shop Story
  • Fish Adventure
  • Bird Land
  • Adventure Chronicles 
  • Holy Bible app
  • Monster Shooter - The Lost Levels
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • GoFun
  • Chocolate Kids Game
  • Three Little Pigs  - for younger kids
  • Tap Dragon
  • Kids Puzzles
  • Zoola  - for younger kids
  • Bunny Shooter
  • Dr. Panda's Hospital - for younger kids
  • Robinson
  • Battle Ships
  • Clown Ball
  • Pac-man
  • BT Handwriting Free (younger kids - is sort of a phonics and letter tracing app)
  • Cross Fingers
  • Zombie Cafe
  • Seven Stars 3D II
  • Front Runner
  • Tiny Village
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Restaurant Story
  • The Oregon Trail - American Settlers
  • Tap Zoo
  • Animal Find  - younger kids
  • Wild Animals - younger kids
  • Angry Birds Space
  • Cinderella Cafe
  • Tappily Ever After
  • Let's Bowl 2
  • Bakery Story
  • Alphabet Car - for younger kids
  • Step by Story Happy Family in the Kitchen - younger kids
  • Bing Animal - younger kids
  • FlipPix Art (there are others too)
  • Gravity Guy
  • Forest Defense
  • Doodlr free Ecards
  • The Treasure of Mystery Island
  • Hangman for kids
  • Sketch n draw
  • Fantasy Town
  • Pretty Pet Salon
  • Fashion Story
  • Real Jigsaw puzzles
  • City Story
  • Zoo Story
  • Cute Animals - younger kids
  • Birds the Word
  • Zoo Story 2
  • Cupcakes!
  • Fling
  • Farm Story
  • Shape Build
  • Toddler games - younger children (obviously : )
  • Find it 
  • Giraffe's Matching zoo - younger children
  • Wash the dishes  - younger children
  • Bubble Saga
  • Six Guns
  • Alphabet Find
  • Tank Hero - my son loves this one.
  • Papbatting
  • Monkey Preschool - younger children 
  • Stupid Zombies - my son loves this one too.
  • Furry Creatures
  • Veggietales - younger children
  • Draw Something
  • Jewels
  • Wolf Toss
  • Pandora
  • Monster Stack 2
  • Animal Hide and Seek 
  • Tap Safari
  • Bugs War
  • Stick Fighter
  • Samuri vs zombies defense
  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Fruit Devil
  • Frontline Commando 
  • Agent shooter
  • Bubble Crusher
  • Ice Age Village
  • Down on the Farm
  • Marvel's The Avengers Iron Man - more for younger kids but my son loves this.
  • Bubble Buster
  • Animal Memory
  • Wordsearh
  • Square wars
  • Paper Toss
  • Doodle Jump
  • Blossom
  • Fashion math
  • Greedy Spiders
  • Hamster Cage
  • Where's my water
  • The Mystery of the Crystal Portal
  • Success Story
  • Guess the Code
  • Glow Hockey
  • Speed Anatomy
  • Supermarket Story
  • Flags
  • Angry Birds
  • Notes
  • Fishing fever
  • Math bubbles
  • Harvest Moon
  • math lines
  • Memory
  • Magic Jigsaw
  • Kids Math Tetris
  • Easy Cupcakes

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My husband is Awesome!!

On Saturday, August 4, 2012 a contemplation from my daily devotion was:
Think about a close friend or family member. In what way does this person reflect God? Does some quality or personality trait speak of what God must be like?

The first person that popped into my head was of course my husband Bryon. And reflections of God in my husband began flowing from my hand all over my journal page.
Some of those I will share in this blog post.

I've been married to Bryon 16 years. We met at a bar back in my hometown. Yes a bar I said.
Who says you can't find true love at a bar? Not me, because I did : ). It was one of those moments where time slows down, everyone and everything else fades away and all you see is tunnel vision on that one person.
I went home that night and told my Mom that I met the man I was going to marry. And a year later we did just that in a candlelight ceremony on New Year's Eve.

Reasons my husband is Awesome: 

He is one of the coolest unschooling examples: 
He can totally shred on that guitar. All self taught at age 12. I'm not saying he's great because I'm his wife and I have to. He used what he taught himself as a career for awhile. He worked as a guitar teacher while being in a band full time as well.



He is accepting:
I love animals, him not so much. Before we had children we had 14 ferrets and 4 cats and a dog. Just to give you a peak into how into animals I am : ). He never said no about any of those animals. He helped care for them, played with them and of course helped support them. Many many years have passed and it's changed a bit. We have children. So he's settled into the I want to devote my time and money to my kids, not pets mindset. I respect that. But even so, he's still okay with us having some pets. We have two cats and a dog. He let me pick out Alice (my dog) as a gift one year. She was pretty costly but he said it was worth it if I really wanted her. He is so accepting of the animal lover in me and the kids.

He is a real life super hero:
He's a police officer for 13 years now. Prior to that he was an EMT.
He opted for a brave move testing for a police department 2800 miles away from the place where we called home. He got accepted. And the rest as they say is history.
This is a hard job. Anyone who doesn't think so is plum crazy. He sees all kinds of horrible things: Child abuse, murder, domestic violence, animal cruelty, sexual abuse, severe drug use, and the list goes on.  People hate him just because of his uniform. He's had to defend his life, taking a life in the process. He wears many hats, counselor, protector, sometimes jailer.  He is honorable, brave, dependable, and has integrity. 
A man changes being a cop for sure, how can you see what he sees not be changed? Yet he is still able to leave it behind and come home.
We talk all the time. About his shift, what he sees, what he does. He's not afraid to share that with me. I feel blessed that he confides in me. I am honored to be a police officer's wife.

He is a fun Dad: 
He is the kind of Dad who is always playing with the kids. He is a fun loving Dad. We went to a park gathering yesterday and aside from a quick hello to the other parents, he was off playing with our kids and the other kids almost the entire time.
When our 3 year old got upset at some point, and wanted to leave. He was the one right there stepping in to play with her, resulting in big smiles and giggles as they played together.

He is generous:
He loves to give to our kids, to me as well. He told me that as a kid, if he asked for something, his parents would reply "What are you going to do for me?"
He loves to be able to give freely, not just material things. But of his time. Time with us and not away from us is a priority for him. You know you have a great man when he's texting you from his golf outing how much he misses you and the kids. I love that he does that.

He is passionate:
He still loves me just as much as he did when I was in my 20's. He still makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. Even during every pregnancy when I felt like I would explode. His interest in me never waned.
And he has such passion about life and living. He is passionate about golf. About being a good husband, officer, father, provider and friend.

He loves having me home:
Not in a "I like my women in the kitchen" kind of way. In a, I love how my wife is home with our children, and I love that she is home whenever I don't have to work, kind of way. And an I love that she loves being there kind of way.

He likes me:
So many wives and husbands don't like each other. They are not friends. He really likes me as a person. He trusts to share his burdens with me and his joys. His stress related to his job. He likes to spend time with me. He enjoys my company. He thinks I'm a pretty awesome wife. (his words, I swear : )

He is hot:
This might be cheesy but, when I look at him after all these years. I still get butterflies in my stomach as if I was that 20 year old girl again. He winks at me across the room and my stomach flip flops. He works hard on his body to be fit and strong for work, for himself. I always tell him he is like a fine wine. He gets better with age. : )

He is an amazing provider:
We are a family of six, plus 3 pets. And he works a hard job so that we can live this life. So that I can be home with our children. He loves that we homeschool. He puts that high on the priority list of important things. There are so many officers that have the big houses, the fancy vacations, cars, and toys, and are on the second or third wives. Yet we live a simple life. We realize that the truly important things that matter, we have in abundance.

He is a loving Father:
He didn't have the greatest model of parenting to follow from his childhood. So what he knows and pulls from are things that he would have wanted as a child himself. And he is always open to ways to improve to be a better Dad. And not only does he uses those skills here at home, but he uses them at work with kids he encounters that have some pretty messed up family situations.

He is Patient:
When I was younger, before we had kids, I was a pain in the ass. He never gave up on me and loved me anyway no matter what.
Present day.... the kids play and leave things about. My kitchen always has the "cooked in" look (is that a real term?). Even though he is gone for 10 hours 4 days a week and it would be so super cool of me if I always had the house in tip top shape for him to come home to. He doesn't judge me or harp on me if I don't. He is just chill and relaxed and accepting of me and my flaws as not the greatest housekeeper. But he gives me an "A" for all my
efforts in trying. : )

He keeps in touch with me:
During his shift or when he's out somewhere. We are always in communication with one another. Whether it's just a kiss via a text message or a hey this is what kind of call I just went on. We remain in touch through the evenings. It keeps us connected.

He Prays for me: 
Everyday he prays for me, for our kids, for our marriage. I love that he does that : ).
He prays with us everyday before he leaves for shift too.

He is just....amazing:
Our daughter Skylar was in the hospital 70 days straight subsequent to her liver transplant at the age of 2. During that time Bryon was also recovering from knee surgery and yet slept next to her in a chair bed for 70 days straight.
He made phone calls to the high ups in the police department because the hospital had put Skylar on "internal financial hold". They wouldn't list her until they had a promise of payment. It was Bryon's words that moved the department to act on her behalf. (They have a private insurance plan which is how the department was able to take part in this.)

He never left her and stayed with her the entire time. He advocated for her, fed her, washed her, changed her, played with her, got movies for her, was her constant companion, prayed for her, cried for her, cried with her, was scared for her, was six hours away from donating a portion of his liver to her. And he said goodbye to her the day of her transplant not knowing if he'd ever see her again.

He took 8 months from work to take care of us. I say us, because not only did Skylar need care. But I was a nightmare. I cried all the time. I was depressed and shocked by what we had been through. I couldn't be alone. He sat in the bathroom with me when I showered. He stood in the doorway when I did laundry.
He maintained Skylar's central line with such care that she didn't contract any kind of an infection as a result. He took care of all the medicines. He took care of all of us.

___________________________

Of course marriage is never all moonlight and roses. But if God had designed the perfect husband just for me, it would be Bryon. He is strong where I am weak. He understands my anxieties and doesn't judge me for them. He is the man I look forward to seeing each morning. And the man I hate seeing go off to work each day. He is the man I thank God for.

I just love him.... and I am lucky to have him and call him mine. And that he loves me and calls me his.





Thanks to Jessica at Bohemian Bowmans for such a great topic to link up to.
Please visit her site to see the other great awesome husband link ups.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Gentle Role model

Today my Grandmother would have been 91. I miss her so much. She lived through the great depression. Raised four children, two of them a set of twins, ran a home, did the books for my Grandfather's businesses, helped him as he held positions in the Shriners and Lions club, raised money for charities and volunteered her time, babysat my brother and myself after school and all through the summer months while our parents worked. Her only sister passed away before I can remember her. She took care of her ailing father and mother, then lost her parents far to early. She was so brave. So kind, so generous and giving. Things she did, she did with a cheerful heart.

I have so many amazing memories of times spent with her.
She made this sandwich on rye bread with miracle whip, melted swiss cheese and boars head ham. I had that sandwich everyday at her house with a side of sour cream and onion chips and a can of soda (back then made with real sugar not this HFCS stuff). She would happily come out to the pool in the backyard asking me if she could make me lunch. She didn't mind serving me lunch on a fancy dish with a fancy napkin and a warm smile.
We had free access to her candy jar on the counter, no matter if a meal was coming. And she was happy to always offer dessert, no matter if we ate our dinner.

She and I would watch The Muppet Show, Love Connection and Family Feud as we nibbled on pretzels and ice cream.

She let me play with anything in her house, nothing was off limits. I got to wear all her jewelry, high heals, dresses, and make up. She let me pull everything out of her pantry to set up a grocery store. She let me use all the coin wrappers to set up my own bank. She even let me play in the fancy living room that most Italian Grandmothers would never allow kids into, where I ate chocolates and played the piano. She would take me on errands with her buying me treats as we went about our day.
She would make me a special plate of pasta every Sunday dinner, no pasta sauce for me.

She was such an amazing person. When I think about a gentle mother, she was surely it.
Every time I say yes to my kids, or do an act of service for them, and put them before myself, I hope my Grandmother is looking down on me and proud of me.

I miss you Grandmom. May the angels be singing your name in heaven today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Activities?

Quite often homeschool parents are really focused on offering a host of classes or activities for their kids to partake in. Even in the local unschooling community I've found this to be more common than not. Sometimes I wonder if some homeschoolers feel that since their kids are not in school they have to be doing x amount of things with other kids outside of siblings and outside the home. That's fantastic if that's something your child wants to do. But how do you really know if it's something your child really does want to do?

  • Is it something they asked about? or is something you strongly suggested?
  • Are you the parent telling your child, they have to partake in something or they won't make friends?
  • Are you the parent trying to live out your childhood through your child? I've seen this happen many times : (. 
  • Does your child prefer to stay home when it's time for said class or activity?
  • Is it you, the Mom or Dad who feels the child needs to have that interaction to be "normal"? Or that you need that interaction yourself? Or time to yourself while they are in the class or activity?
  • Does your child cry or get upset when you bring up the activity or take them to it?
  • Would you make them stick it out even if they tried it and didn't like it?
Last summer my older girls who are now 8 and 10, expressed and interest in a clay class offered by the parks department. It sounded lovely at first. It was pretty much mayhem. Kids running everywhere, touching projects of other children, rude behavior directed at other kids, at their own parents, parents afraid to say a word of correction to them. Summer especially had a really hard time with it. She got pretty emotional and tears began to stream down her face. I'm not sure if it was just an overload of stimulation with all the craziness happening around her, or if she just felt scared that I might leave her there, or nerves about being with strangers. 

In reflection I didn't handle it well.  I should have been more understanding of what she was feeling. I should have walked outside with her and hugged her and just sat with her and let her cry if she wanted to and needed to cry. I should have used some active listening skills to help her (which I didn't know about at the time). That class session ended up having a good outcome though. My Dad who was visiting, came in the class toward the end and helped myself and the girls make some stuff. Then we left and went out to dinner with the rest of my family. 

Another night the girls and I were talking and I asked them what they wanted to do about the class. They were on the fence. They wanted to use clay but not in the class. And they wanted their projects. We discovered some air dry clay to use at home. And my brother picked up their projects for us on his way to work one day. So they got to paint them at home. These were solutions we came up with together. And everyone was happy. 
The reason I share this story is because I was reading a post from a Mom on Always learning tonight. She was talking about her kids and them joining activities. 
Here is Sandra Dodd's response which I felt was one of her many gems and wanted to share here. The part with the lines in front is the original post content Sandra is responding to. Sandra's responses are in italics. 

---=-, but every time I suggest something, no matter what it is, they refuse to
give it a chance.-=-

That sounds antagonistic. "They refuse" sounds more like you were pushing
something than "suggesting."


----=-Last week we took him to a 2-day workshop at the Apple Store (dh had signed
him up, without consulting him). Ds was very reluctant to participate, and right
before things were to begin, he actually had tears in his eyes. (when he went to
school and when he joined activities when he was younger, he never cried - it's
something new since we started homeschooling.) Anyway, things turned out ok
because they let my other son participate so he had his little brother right
there, and the activity turned out to be fun for him - making music and movies
on the iPad. But……-=-

BUT… why didn't your husband go with him?

How would YOU have felt if someone signed you up for a two day workshop (or a
one HOUR workshop) without asking you?

How would your husband feel if you signed him up for a two day workshop without
asking him?

As trusting relationships go, I think both of you are getting colder, not
warmer.

-=- ds's behavior has become more extreme since taking him out of school and I'm
not sure how to help him. It used to seem that he was simply uninterested in
trying new activities. Now it seems to be a fear of social situations.
-=-

#1, you're making it worse
#2, he was bullied when he was in school
#3, he's 9 years old. Let him be home, at peace, until he himself wants more
interaction.


-=-Dh was upset when he saw the way ds was acting.-=-

Your husband created that situation. I think any objective observer would have
been on your son's side.


-=- I feel pressure to have them interact more formally with others, to show dh
(and the countless others who ask "what about socializing?") that they ARE
socializing. -=-

People NEVER ask "what about socializing?"
They ask, "What about socialization?"

You and your husband are trying to enforce some "socialization." It is NOT
socializing.

You should, as a family, find friends and do things with other people. Don't
send your kids out, school-style, to sink or swim in social situation. Be in
social situation as a group, as a family.

-=-and I'm wary of committing to things "behind their backs".-=-

Good.
You should have a firm policy and a moral certitude about not committing anyone
to anything, ever.


-=-From what I understand about unschooling, I should let the kids take the lead
and choose what and if they want to join group activities. But I think they're
not giving things a chance and missing out on social interactions and learning
new skills/sports that they would likely end up really enjoying. -=-

The misunderstanding comes from "take the lead."

You should be doing cool things WITH them, and your husband should be, too.

I think you and your husband aren't giving unschooling a chance. You want it to
look like school, where you stay home while the boys are off with kids their
age. That's not what unschooling looks like.

http://learninghappens.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/unschooling-is-not-child-led-lea\
rning/

http://sandradodd.com/nest

Let your children be at peace, and grow into their own desire to venture out. 
The more you pressure, the more they will want to stay home. The more confident
they are at home, the more confident they will be when they want to explore.

There have been families throughout history where the kids only saw siblings
(maybe occasionally cousins) for years, who grew up with no neighbors within
walking distance, and they grew up fine.

Sandra

My kids are friends with each other. They have some really touching amazing moments between them that really make a Mom's heart melt. As far back as I can remember we've always told them that a sibling is a friend God has given to you. My kids have waves of ups and downs just like any other humans. There are times they want to be alone and not play with each other. There are times they play for hours and the house is filled with happy giggles. There are times I find two of them snuggled in one of their beds late at night watching Netflix together. Or times I walk into someones bedroom to see everyone laying and chit chatting about their day so sweetly. 
On the subject of siblings....Siblings Without Rivalry is a great book for anyone who might be having issues with the sibling relationships of their children or to prevent you from causing issues between your children. And even to address ones you had growing up with your own siblings. 

I read a book in the beginning of our homeschool journey called The Socialization Trap by Rick Boyer. Sandra's post reminded me a bit of that book in some aspects. So might be worth a read for anyone interested. 

Recently my girls have each expressed an interest in trying another type of activity, in the form of swimming for one and gymnastics for another. Both sports that have come from their watching some of the Olympics. We talked about it a bit, told them what it would be like based on what each sport is and things they might expect, how to dress, the ages of kids,  and things that might be expected of them during the sessions. My kids like knowing information up front. They have decided they would like to pray on it for a bit and get back with me. Skylar (10) said to me the other day that if she brings something up like taking this class, or getting a new toy, book, etc., if she forgets about it and never talks about it again, then it's not important to her, it's a passing interest. And that if it's important to her, she'll remember and bring it up again to follow through. 

I took a few rabbit trails here, but in closing I'd say. Let your kids be however they wish to be. If they want to stay home and play with siblings, or even if they want to just be alone and enjoy the quiet. Don't try to change them. Even only children (of which I was one until my brother came along) enjoy time alone playing by themselves. 
Don't force something that feels wrong to them. If they want to pursue something, help them do so, but don't force it or direct and demand that they do it. Let them be free to be who they are, not how you wish they would be or how society says a "normal" child is supposed to be. They are perfect right where they are.