Friday, January 19, 2018

2017 update

So I realize it's been quite a while since I've posted. Life and time gets in the way I suppose.
I thought I would give an update of what's been going on in our lives:

Skylar is 16 now and as I look back at where her interests were last year I see she has taken a different interest path. Previously she was interested in forensics. I guess folks may wonder if she's driving. Of her own accord she decided she's not really ready to drive. She and I had a bit of a fender bender in the summer (we were rear-ended at a red light) and that not only shook us up, but it impressed upon her the huge responsibility that driving a vehicle entails. She has the permit booklet and said she will let us know when she feels ready.

Right now she's focusing on writing fiction and learning some languages she's interested in... Korean, Spanish and French. She's also been reading. Right now she's reading a book called Quiet and another one of Travis Langley's books, this one being Captain America vs Iron Man. She's also planning to read his book on Supernatrual as that's one of our favorite shows here. She also has a few things she would like to brush up on skill wise before she feels ready to graduate at age 17. She's really interested in various types of music from all genres and time periods. She's been attending some concerts when the opportunity presents itself. She's pretty active on Instagram as well.

Summer is 14 now. She's interested right now in Korean Pop music. She is learning Korean and spends a lot of time reading about her favorite bands, band members and Korean culture. She is also pretty active on Instagram. She's not really been much of a sit and read a book fan but has been reading Skylar's writings.

Both the older girls really have gotten into helping meal prep and clean up after dinner. They keep their rooms spotless. I wish I was like that as a teen. But I'm almost embarrassed that they keep their
rooms more tidy than our master bedroom.

Decklin is 11 now. One huge milestone was that he taught himself to read. I cannot begin to say how awesome that journey has been to witness. I'll admit I had my doubts. How could a child learn to read with no instruction at all. But I trusted that so many before him had done just that and I was willing to give it time. It was Xbox gaming, Nintendo DS games, apps on the iPad,  text messaging with family and friends (that talk to text and Siri reading texts was a huge help). He also taught himself to tell time based on the fact that he wanted to know when his dad would be home from work at night. He's reading the Action Bible and Lego bible right now. He also likes listening to the audio bible versions on an app on his IPad. He enjoys online gaming on Xbox live, playing with local and distant friends in person and on Xbox, and gaming with his sisters. He's also a really great golfer. This year he was able to go beyond the driving range and golf a full 18 holes twice with my husband. That was pretty awesome for him he said.

Ember is 8 now. She's big on repeat listening to TV shows while she has a bunch of other things going on (i.e.: playing with our puppy, or should I say puppies, playing with playdough, making slime, building with magnatiles, coloring, cutting things out and up, playing apps on her Nintendo DS or on her IPad, just to name a few.) She also loves doing stuff around the house, laundry, dishes, mopping, vacuuming, dusting.
We just redid our family chore list (where we sit and the kids pick the stuff they like or don't mind doing and we had to hold her back so she wouldn't take them all haha).

My husband was right on scene on the 32nd floor at the Route 91 shooting that we had here in Vegas in October 2017. You might have seen him on TV the day he met the President.  Afterward he needed some time off as it was just a lot to take in from that night and was so very emotional. So he was able to take some time from work to heal and try to get back to normal. During that time we were able to just spend time as a family working through all that happened and all that he saw and experienced. We have 4 pups and 2 cats so leaving town and getting away for a bit wasn't workable but, during that time we were blessed to be so loved on by our local church family. People from church reached out to us in amazing ways. One fellow church member gifted us with an experience at our local lion habitat. Bry got to even feed a lion. And we all got to feed a giraffe. Our church gifted us with a cool experience to shark reef and dinner. They also offered so much support and prayers. They honored Bry as a first responder at church and it was just so great to have so much love poured out on us.

Monday, September 5, 2016

High school / College Prep

So Skylar is going to be 15 soon and while she hasn't completely nailed down exactly what she wants to be when she "grows up", we have been kicking around some ideas for her to gain some direction. She's always loved history and just by that love has covered a good bit of high school subjects such as Gothic Literature, Greek Literature, British Literature, Modern Literature, British History and American History. As a result her writing and speaking are fantastic and very mature and well thought out. One thing we may do is grab a GED test taker prep book for Language arts just to see where she falls Language arts skills wise.

She's expressed an interest in possibly working at the crime lab, so our first stop has been to look up the educational requirements for said job. Lots of science of course in the mix and we have never done any traditional science in our homeschooling. So those are some things we will be addressing if that's a path she wishes to take. There are a lot of great online courses she can take for these so those are possibilities.
Next on the list is getting her a visit with the crime lab so she can see how she does, more so looking to how she will be in the morgue before we focus on a heavy science load for high school credits.

Regardless of the career path, she is going to do some of the Life of Fred books we have sitting on the shelf and work through those and take those as far up the ladder as her interests go. Just so she has the college prep "math" under her belt, although untraditionally.

She's also expressed an interesest in reading up on Psychology, so we are getting her some of the series by Travis Langley, first stop being The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead.

We found an accredited college that offers online Associates and Bachelors Degrees for a very very affordable price. And we discussed her doing like a general associates or bachelors and then doing a focused science study with a minimum of 14 college level credits in addition to that if she is interested in the science focus, which would meet the job requirements for the job she is interested in. And then if she wants to take it further once she is working she can pursue a higher level degree if that's needed. And she possibly can work somewhere that pays for college tuition or she can work in her chosen field and contribute some of those earnings toward any further education.  This college does require a portfolio for homeschool admission so that is something I started to put together based on things she has under her belt already from this year. They get pretty detailed with wanting pictures of the front cover of books used as well as the title page of the book. But I think it's easier to accomplish that than it is to pay over $1,000 for a high school diploma that doesn't cover near the diversity of subjects she has and can cover if we go it on our own (as our state law permits us to do).

We are 100% committed to any of our kids who want to pursue college or trade school to do so without taking student loans or going into debt, so cost has to be kept in mind. We had discussed her doing a high school diploma course online but when I saw the list of subject courses (all which can be easily covered by us without the program) we decided against paying for a program for high school, since we can easily issue our own high school diploma.

She's also got a job in mind that provides training, benefits and a great pension and so that would be a nice plan also, if that's something she wants to pursue, and she can do so as early as 18 and be out there in that career, so that's also something she is kicking around.

Friday, August 26, 2016

August 2016 - getting Debt Free - affording things

Hello fellow homeschoolers out there in the world.
I Hope this finds you all doing quite wonderfully.

The kids are now almost 15, almost 13, almost 10 and 7.

Bry and I made a huge commitment this year beginning in May 2016 to follow Dave Ramsey's plan to get us debt free. We really want to be able to cash flow any of the kids through college if we are able... though we realize that may not be realistic as Skylar will be 15 soon and we have quite a bit of debt to work through.. but we are giving it our all to make it happen. I'm keeping myself accountable to being debt free at this blog just for that purpose alone: We will be Debt Free 
We have found a pretty cool option for an online accredited high school for Skylar if she wants to do that. As of yet she doesn't. And we are okay with that. We also found a sister online college related to the homeschool which is a good option if she wants to pursue that. We shall see what the future holds for her plans in that regard.

Decklin had a huge awesome milestone... it's been happening step by step over the years... but he has learned to read without us using any "learn to read programs" so that was super awesome to see. Sometimes I found I would second guess not using learn to read programs with he and Ember, so this was a real boost maybe when I needed it. Sandra Dodd talks about reading a lot on her website. And I was truly relieved that I let his mind work the way it did and let him learn at his own pace. What helped him with this... Video games... You Tube Videos... Websearches... Talk to text on his IPad... Siri....Books... Game guides... Game walk throughs... Friends... Us...

Happy Homeschooling.

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 update

A lot has happened in our lives since I last posted. I sort of fell out of keeping the blog so set it to private. But figured in case any old homeschool friends were interested I would make it public again.

Just super quick...  we are still homeschooling... still unschooling actually, though I will be honest and say I've had curriculum temptations haha. But I've found that my older girls especially tend to help me re-focus when the temptation to make a purchase comes over me.
The kids are now 14, 12, 9, and 7.
We just celebrated a year in our new home on May 12, 2016. Last year we purchased a newly constructed DR Horton Home and we really just feel like we found a great house and a great neighborhood with great neighbors to call home.
We had rented a small, make that small for our family size, home (1100 square feet) for 2 years to save up to purchase our home. Our kids all shared the master suite in order to make it workable. And we were determined to be able to get back to home ownership again.
Bry has now been serving on the police department for 17 years. We thank God everyday in this anti police environment that he makes it home each night. He may be making a move to working off the streets very soon. This comes with a significant jump in pay but that's not the motivation. The motivation is really that he has served a lot of time on the streets of our city and it's time to dip his toe in another area of police work.
I'm also working... I was offered an amazing part time job (4 hours a week) and it's been a true blessing. The pay is wonderful, and I really enjoy the job. I've been working since August 2015. I take notes on board meetings, type up the minutes, contact political candidates, schedule and organize political endorsement interviews and things of that nature. I get to work with a great bunch of folks on our board and just really enjoy my role with them. I will confess that it felt like God really dropped an amazing opportunity into my lap to use this job to get us debt free. (Which is something we really re-committed to doing).
My brother was married in June of last year and the kids had a great time meeting extended family they hadn't gotten to see otherwise.  My husband lost his mother and his brother very closely to one another... and that was a super sad time of course.

The kids have grown a lot. I uploaded some pics in the side bar and will add a few here also.

Skylar is 14 so we officially have been homeschooling a teenager. Was hard to imagine getting to this point just because when we started she was just two years old. But wow! Does time fly or what. As I mentioned, we are still unschooling and for Skylar how that looks right now is: Instagram, Music, Photo editing, Attending Concerts (with her Dad), Watching YouTube, Reading - Right now she is really into Greek Mythology. Watching Supernatural with her Dad from the beginning all the way through (she and I are already on season 11 I think it is). I know some Christian parents would take issue with this show... but in our house it's sparked some great conversations especially relating to the character of God and how God, Angels and Demons, etc. are portrayed in the show. It's funny that sometimes she has to remind either myself or Bry that the show is just fiction. She got Invisalign this year which has been a journey in itself... man talk about some serious pain and suffering. She's on tray 4 of 22 and it's better but the first tray was awful she said.
Skyar's maturity and attitude about pretty much all things amazes me she's just very mature and patient about so many things. Probably a great thing in this house of crazies for sure! Haha

Summer is 12 and this year was the first year she really was excited to dive into some books. They were Harry Potter that Skylar had requested for Christmas. She watched the movies first and then felt like she wanted to read the books. She did some coloring in the Harry Potter Coloring book, this year she has really gotten into music so she listens to music a lot, she's a huge fan of Dan and Phil (some youtubers) and Bry is taking her and Skylar to see them next month.  Summer is so helpful around here and so generous as well. Skylar is generous with giving the little kids candy and Summer is generous with her time. Though she is gravitating toward wanting more time to herself she is always willing to let Ember and Decklin hang in her room and color or play their ipads while she has her music on. She also pitches in often to help with breakfast and lunch making for the younger kids. She's pretty active on her several instagram accounts, has made some nice friendships that way also. She seems to like the flexibility that online friendships offer and she's met some nice kids around the globe that way too.

Decklin is 9 and this year he's been learning a ton about a ton, specifically from Youtube. He's also made some great friends in our new neighborhood, one boy we found that lives here is also homeschooled and another of his neighborhood friends attends public school. He has a pretty active social life seeing those friends and other long time homeschool friends.  Bry takes him to hit golf balls weekly. And he loves playing video games on Xbox live, with in person friends and family and solo. I have to admit he is great with money from those video games. And also he is reading quite a bit from those games and from texting on his Ipad as well. He and his one friend text a lot back and fourth, the audio text feature on the idevices is great for kids for sure. Also has lots of great apps on the ipad that he plays. Right now he and Ember are super into a game called Geometry dash.

Ember is 7 and funny enough I'm surprised by how this kid loves workbooks and writing. She will write letters and numbers on anything. You can often find her with notebooks spread before her filling them up. Explode the code workbooks are super fun for her. And for a couple days she and Decklin were using math flash cards to test each other on math skills. She thought that was super fun. She also loves board games and playing Xbox Kinect, Exo Zombies and Minecraft as well. This kid can hang pretty touch with the zombie fighting games. Her coordination amazes me. I can't even walk and shoot and here she is helping revive team mates, upgrading her weapons fighting off zombies all at once haha. She plays with Kinetic sand, her easy bake oven and some other food making sets that she heard about on You Tube. She's a huge fan of the Vat19 video demos on there.
Ember is always doing something to keep busy, usually with the TV for background noise while she does other things... playing hide and seek with the puppy, board games, writing, coloring, playdough, ipad games or really a bunch of other stuff.

We watch Fear of the Walking Dead and Walking Dead together as a family always brings up some good discussions for us. Lately we have been watching Naked and Afraid together also.
Last night the older girls and I had a Grease movie marathon of sorts. My whole point was to show them how great I thought the first one was compared to the others (Grease 2 and Grease live). And even though they wouldn't say they were fans of the original Grease... they felt it was hordes better than the others... as if there was any doubt (hahaha). I on the other hand loved Grease so much as a teen that my friends and I knew it word for word. Haha... fun times.
Here are some pics of the family.

Happy Homeschooling and be blessed. 

Skylar (14), Summer (12) and Bryon

Me, Ember (6) and Decklin (9)

The bunch of us with my brother and his wife Heather.

My parents and Bry and I. 

Alice (black dog) and Ivy (newest addition) a year old here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 update

This was a post I had sitting in draft for a while. It's essentially a review of the things the kids were passionate about in 2014.

At the time the update was drafted, the kids were 5, 7, almost 11, almost 13. Breaking it down by more traditional school subjects, things they would have covered this year:
Language arts, Music theory, Music instruction, Music appreciation, science, math, art instruction, art appreciation, Physical education, and critical thinking skills. 

Things the kids have been interested in and passionate about:

Skylar almost 13:
She is still really interested in being a make up artist, as she was last year about this time. We've continued supporting her interest. She also still enjoys experimenting with various make up applications. And enjoys reading reviews on make up, beauty products, personal care products. Make up alley is a site she enjoyed reading over this year. Hordes of reviews there. 

She still has a keen interest in watching horror movies. And along with Summer and my husband. They try to watch one every weekend together. Bry and I do the research prior to compile some choices for movies that don't have themes that would be inappropriate for our girls. At this stage in the game, the sexual nature of some of the movies is something we avoid. Some may ask why not the violence? But the violence to them is clearly all fiction. Whereas we as parents feel the scenes of a sexual nature, just aren't necessary or of interest for a good scary movie.She's learning guitar. My husband has been giving her lessons (he self taught at 12 and has been playing since). And this year she's discovered some music that she has taken an interest in and been acquiring her own music collection bit by bit. 
She enjoys spending her time practicing guitar, listening to music and drawing. 
She really enjoys drawing wolves with copic markers as her preference. Her friend helped her get started with her drawing via "lessons" over face time conversations. Gotta love the door that technology opens. 

She started an Instagram and has loaded some of her art, some pictures of our cats, and some of her previous clay art work there. She also enjoys following a few other folks on Instagram. 

Both the older girls made a great friend through the homeschool group I am the caretaker for. Through the summer they went to her house weekly where they played minecraft together, did some drawing and listened to music. They text and facetime as well. The girls have the prior versions of my and Bry's Iphones and use a free texting app. They don't have cell service, but service over wifi, which we feel works good for their needs now. 

Sometimes on Mondays Skylar will accompany Bry to band practice, where she hangs with his band members daughter. 

She also enjoys watching gaming videos and music videos on YouTube. 
And playing new video games. 

With her freely given spending money she sets aside funds for copic markers and new songs on Itunes to add to her collection. 

Summer almost 11:

Summer is still interested in learning guitar and the interest has been reignited as Skylar has recently started lessons. 
We have had some fun, Summer, Decklin and I jamming on guitar hero for Xbox 360. Good times! She really enjoys the walking dead game app on her kindle and used some of her spending money to buy the game disk for Xbox this weekend. 

She continues to be a devoted email pen pal. It's one of her favorite ways to connect with friends. She also enjoys texting and facetiming with friends. 

She still loves watching prank videos on You Tube. As well as video game walk through and ghost stories. She also listens to music and enjoys using stencils for drawing. 

She plays with her younger siblings quite a bit: Board games, takes them out to ride scooters, plays video games with them. She's still really into fashion and clothing. Recently she made guitar pick earrings for herself, her sisters and her friend.  

We recently picked back up watching Supernatural together, her, Skylar and I. 

Summer, Skylar and I have recently gotten into the TV show Blacklist. 

Decklin 7: 
He still enjoys toy guns and sword play. 
Especially nerf and super soaker guns! One of his favorite things is running about at the park with his friends playing Super heros. 

He really enjoys playing video games with any of us or sometimes he likes to play solo. He's been teaching Ember to play minecraft on Xbox. He's so patient helping her along. It's really sweet to see.
Summer plays various games with him a lot. They even got into playing Grand theft auto. Which is really fun to watch them play. 
Video games for us are connection, great times, talking, laughing... just so different than what mainstream media says about a child and video games.
He is really into Adventure time, Regular show, Trasformers Prime, Clone Wars, and Ultimate Spider-Man. He still plays a ton with Legos. And still is really into the bristle blocks. Building a lot of ships with them. He rides scooters with the other kids almost daily. 
We get together weekly for him to play with friends at the park. 

Ember 5:
This little lady knows her way around her newest kindle like an expert. She can often be found playing a kindle game and watching a program. She's into Victorious, Life with Boys, Hannah Montana, and Sam and Cat, as well as some shows she and Decklin share an interest in. 

She and I play a lot of Uno of varying types (Monster High uno is one she likes a lot). And several other board/card games: Monopoly Empire, Feed the Kitty, and dominoes. She's been playing some Starfall on the computer. 

We are all really a gaggle of homebodies and enjoy watching movies and hanging at home together. Taking walks in the cool evenings. Late night snacks and chit chat. Video game challenges, finding a new series to watch, are all things we do as a family. 

Wishing everyone a great day!

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:

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.)

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: 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. :-)