The Year of Fixing

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Me, working on illustrations for the book, “Dog the Dragon”. Nothing to do with the post but thought I should add an image of some sort. So there you go.

 

After years of trying to get back on track (and pay off our debt) this is apparently the year of fixing. Fixing the car, fixing our health, replacing things that can’t be fixed, just plain getting things back in order.
So far:

  •  Shamus has gotten a benign cyst that I was sure was a unicorn horn starting on his forehead.
  • Rachel has been diagnosed with moderate hearing loss . She has cheap over-the-counter hearing aids that rub but which help enough that she willing wears them anyway. Our goal is to be able to get her a pair of digital ones (including bluetooth for music, phone, computer) BEFORE she moves out in the next year.
  • New glasses for Es and I – much needed, including reading glasses for me. This would make me feel old except that I have needed reading glasses off and on since I was 18.
  • Replaced dead Wii with Wii U.
  • New sewing machine to replace multiple dead or nearly dead old ones.
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Another unrelated picture, though apparently this is also the year of the rain cloud. all the rain, all the time.


Coming soon:

  • Full glaucoma workup for both Shamus and Es because apparently there is weird eye stuff running in that side of the family.
  • Get Rach in to doctor for proper inhaler script, permission to get hearing aids (because the FDA is weird), and get her driver’s permit physical.
  • Get car doors fixed- our car has issues. Every door has something wrong with it, 2 don’t open at all, one only opens from out outside, one only opens from inside and one works but has a broken bit so you have to open it just so.
  • Get Rach decent digital hearing aids that suit her needs. Preferably ones with bluetooth that can be adjusted from her phone and can be used with bluetooth so she can easily do what she does, like talk on Skype, listen to music, watch movies.
  • Get a good printer for printing art so the girls and I can, you know, print our art.
Sunset. Because sunset.
Sunset. Because sunset.

I am sure there is more that I have forgotten.

Lots of general stuff going on:

  • Rach graduating and moving out (soon).
  • Rach working on independent study of art and possibly video game design and programming.
  • Me working on the book illustrations, working full time, and working on several websites.
  • Es working as content manager for a website.
  • Es designing and creating a video game.
  • Es writing a webcomic.
  • Issac doing his thing (mostly video games, Lego, and hanging out online with friends while growing and eating and growing some more.
  • Shamus writing, writing, writing, working on Good Robot, writing some more, doing  Spoiler Warning and the podcast and writing some more.

Because video games

Since my kids are at the stage where they are less interested in me sharing their exploits and photos I have less to write about from the unschooling side of things. Well, I have stuff to say but that is mostly in answer to questions, which I usually answer elsewhere (though if you ask me a question I may respond here.) Meanwhile, outside of work, Seriously Simple body butter making, website stuff, and occasionally in this season, drawing, I have been watching a lot of kdrama and anime, and playing video games. Because of my work situation I have a lot of downtime and now that I own a 2ds (thanks to Mr. Shamey-pants) I have spent a lot of time playing.

Current favorites:

Child of Light (On the PS4 though we also own it on pc. ). Hands down favorite at the moment.  This is my current all time favorite game despite some silliness it is aesthetically pleasing to play, and the battles are just enough strategy to suit my current level of concentration. Think this one will get it’s own post.

Life is Strange (pc): Working through this one with Es. This is the sort of game we both love, but we both also prefer to play this sort of game with someone else. So it is slow going since we are both busy. That said; aesthetically pleasing, fascinating story, fun to play, interesting concept.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3ds). Adorable and fun. Though the game is currently missing so I haven’t had a chance to play more.

Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (3ds)- At first I was enamoured of the gradual introduction to more stuff to do and love the foraging. Then I got stressed at home because of a lot of stuff going on and realized the list of “have to do’s” was too much and I had to stop gameplay. So right now it is in hiatus and I am not sure when I will go back to it.

Tales of Symphonia: Wii edition. I adored the original Tales of Symphonia game. Adored it. Beautiful. A joy to play. Not too much battle stuff if you didn’t want it and more if you did. I had to stop playing because the only nunchuck I could track down was wonky and made walking nigh impossible so I am not sure how much issue is the game and how much was my broken nunchuk. However- the translation and dialogue had serious pacing issues, and the story so far sucks. I really, really don’t like the protagonist (reminds me of a cowering version of Titus’ whininess in Final Fantasy), I hate how everyone treats him, and well, I only got through the first 30 minutes, most of which was really slow dialogue.

Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns (3ds)– I have heard amazing things about this one. Most people I have encountered who have played the series say this is their favorite aside from Magical Melody. Magical Melody and Tree of TRanquility were my favorites so it will be interesting to give this one a go.

Life is Beautiful and Teens are Awesome

The last couple months or so have been crazy busy.

Mr. Tumnus gets a new look.

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We moved in the fall (that is a huge story that eventually I will tell, when I have time, and words). Es started volunteering at the library. Rach got a job, then lost it due to age restrictions (company policy vs store policy.)

Breakfast date with my baby boy. (He wouldn’t let me post the one with him in it.

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The kids are all teens now, and wonderful, awesome, brilliant, fun to be around, and all busy with their own stuff. I don’t post things about them unless they give permission (never have) and now they are older and more private about their stuff and well, I have less to share. We have several new projects we are working on as a family.

Life as we know it is swirling and changing and adapting. I go from times when the kids want all my attention and it is a swirl of activity to times where no one is around– all asleep, or busy with their personal projects, or talking to friends.

 

Rachel’s new head.

 

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My own projects go in spurts. In this season they often get set aside to talk out personal issues with the kids, discuss how somethign works or why, or how people work or think or why people can be dumb sometimes.

Pillow fort.

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It is all such a whirl of color and activity interspersed with times of quiet and nothing that it is hard to keep track of coming or going.

 

THIS is how geeks spend Thanksgiving. Dungeons .and Dragons Clue plus Sheetz takeout.

 

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Our big current project – the kids and I (I’ll let Shamus share his own as he sees fit) is body butters. (For sale here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SeriouslySimpleStuff) They are fun to make and pretty and the kids love them as much as I do.

Kind of excited about the adorable body butters the kids and I are selling. This is the cute little sample size.

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And how cute did the single Valentine’ s gift wrap turn out.

 

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And there is more happening but I will leave it for now. Life is beautiful, and fun, and wonderful. We have a new warm, safe place to live that is everything we could have asked for, if we had thought to do so. This season with teens is absolutely awesome.

It is NOVEMBER!

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A Day in the Life of a Radically Unschooling (Christian) Family

New unschoolers ask all the time “what does a typical day look like?”  I wrote a response 5 years ago, when we were not yet radical unschoolers but full unschoolers.  After sharing it once again I also wrote up our day today so I thought I would share.

My kids are older now and our typical days change based on what projects they are doing, what they are interested in, what their current goals are, and what my husband and I are doing (I work full time outside the home for this season, he writes and programs- freelance). I think today went something like this: 

I got up at around 9am, hubby was still asleep, Rachel (16) still asleep, Issac (12) got up at about 4:55am, Es (14) got up at 6 or so. Rach got up around 12? Shamus got up around 11am? 
Es SteampunkI take my supplements, have my tea, have my breakfast, sit at the computer and look over Facebook- check admin stuff  that needs done for the Facebook group. Younger two have been up watching “Malcom in the Middle” (in between projects, though middle daughter is currently working on a Minecraft texture pack). The tv show has been watched several times through recently, lots of questions answered about the time period, various topics that come up, the humor. Es watches a lot of shows to learn more about pacing and humor as she writes and wants to write better humor and wants to pace her animations and comics better. 

Issac did the dishes (he is saving up for a harddrive and all in family get paid for their work by the hour). Es decided at the last minute to come with me to take my grandmother shopping (every Tuesday) but decided to do a social experiment and dressed up in a steam punk style outfit and brought a card and crayon to make notes about reactions. She wants to write a tumblr post documenting her social experiment- how many people react, how they react by demographic. Shamus wakes just before we leave- he is writing today. Rachel wakes as we leave. She is working on a Minecraft world she and her best friend are designing and needs to work on the texturepack. 
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On the way to my grandmothers Es and I discuss prophecy vs demonic possession, staying close to God during times of extreme spiritual stuff, what the Bible says about fortune telling and prophecy. We stop when Grandma gets in the car. Es explains her project to Grandma. While Grandma and I get groceries, Es goes off around the store to see and document reactions. She then comes back to us, helps a bit, then goes pick up some things she just remembered she wanted. 

We go to Subway because Grandma is hungry. We discuss expanding Esther’s social experiment and what she would need in order to do that as well as other people’s experiences with colored hair, dreads, piercings and peoples reactions.
Es steampunk
We take Grandma home, put away her groceries. We stop by my dad’s place to take some pictures and visit a bit. Talk about the old butternut tree that fell down which my dad is turning into a coffee table (and teaching himself all the steps- lots of new stuff happening there- made a new type of joint today and spent months planing the wood and making the boards). Es talks to him a bit about her experiment.

We stop at the thrift shop to look a t the formal wear for ideas for other skirts and outfits. Found a pair of shoes, a Doctor Who scarf, and a silk skirt that will be awesome. Get home. Issac is putting together a new puzzle we had just gotten. He is in a “bored” stage- his friends (who he talks to on Skype) have all been busy, he wants to have a new hard drive so he can do more, and the weather is cold and supposed to warm up so he doesn’t want to go outside till it does. So he is watching tv, putting together the puzzle and complaining about being bored. Es realizes she is hungry and tired so makes herself some cream cheese pancakes and sits down to watch. Rach makes herself some regular pancakes. She has been working on the Minecraft world while we were gone and has just gotten working on the texture pack. Hubby is taking a nap.1891084_10152138006699335_1472135447_n

I realize that I messed up about a birthday party Es was supposed to go to (her first one that was just her going for her friend and I messed up.) We shop on Amazon instead, she writes her a note on the gift, and we make plans to get together soon.

 

In an hour I leave for work (12 hr shift over night) but in the meantime I am back on the computer trying to problem solve and come up with solutions for running a huge facebook group while lacking the proper tools to do it. 

And there you have it. Our day today. 10014618_10152138006809335_586485070_n

“Screen Time”

We get the “my kids are doing nothing but play video games/watch tv/look at a screen and I can’t stand it, what should I do?” question about once every week or so on our  (now huge) Christian unschooling Facebook group. It has become the norm. We are all kind of tired of it. Really. For many reasons. Mostly because we hear the fear, we know the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred yet, and  we know it will be a fight to get there, and that part is exhausting. The following is a recent response that I wrote while super-short on sleep 😀 but which ended up covering all the basics in one place.

Esther playing Sims.
Esther playing Sims.

To pull from something my dear friend Pam often points out; how much time is “nothing other than game on their PC/ds/Wii”. Do they get up to get a drink? Go to the bathroom? Eat something? Sleep? If they are doing those things then clarify. They are doing something other than just playing games. They are probably getting up. They may even jump around, do other things. They may spend a few minutes getting something, look something up, they may even go play with something else for a while, go outside, play together beside the tv, they are very likely doing something else too. We need to see those things and recognize that no, the child is not spending “all their time”, they are spending more time than we feel comfortable with.  When we start out with a generalization, it is really hard to get from the viewpoint of seeing it in a negative light to seeing “screens” as many different types of learning and internal things going on and the screen itself as just the media they are getting those things.

Rachel watching anime.
Rachel watching anime.

My husband spends the majority of his day in front of a screen. Working, playing, socializing. He does many different things and yes, he has always preferred doing things in front of a computer screen to elsewhere- there are just so many more things to do, it is a vast world full of many, many types of media in one place- no huge mess to clean up when he wants to play a game, he can write quickly and efficiently, read quickly and move between many different things to read, watch a movie, change the movie, and so on.  It is an amazing, miraculous thing that allows us to communicate with our friends across the world (he collaborates with people all across the US weekly on huge projects), work anywhere (he works with people from all across the globe) and so on. It is amazing that this technology is available in our lifetimes and our children get to learn the language of it now, easily, without fear.  Our kids are going to live in a world where much of their time is going to be in front of the computer. Some people won’t, but the vast majority will. They will use it for work, for play, for socialization, and as unschoolers we have the freedom to let them learn it right now, first hand, and be proficient at it. This is a huge boon compared to kids who are stuck in a classroom unable to look things up as they are interested. Our kids will be well prepared for the future, right now.

 “Technology is here to stay. So why would I choose to keep my kids illiterate in the language that they may need for the future? A half an hour a day does not give kids time to explore the land scape.” ~Aza Donnelly

That said, if you are still really uncomfortable with how much time they are spending, then you get off the computer (you are here, reading this, communicating with others, online) and do really cool things out where they will see. Things that they will love. You make things available that go with what they love on their games (you will probably have to get online to research those things). You find things that associate with what they are doing so there is a connection- if they are into a game that has an associated tv show or other media then there are probably lots of  products out there related to it- pick up a book connected with it, or some figurines, or whatever. If there is a website that has info about the game they are playing (hints, a walkthrough, a wiki- my kids learned to navigate the internet and read because they loved looking up info for their games) put it on your screen and show it to them. If the fact that they would be reading it on a screen bothers you, then you can often buy  a gamers guide but they do get expensive. Offer to help them create a database of the characters and their skills, or print up ones you find online for quick reference. Pick up a gaming magazine for kids, or a book about the collectibles or whatever. Find ways you can connect with the kids where they are, ask them about the games, the shows, whatever. Bring them healthy finger foods if you are worried about what they are eating or that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them about the game, what they are playing, the plot, the people in the games. Let them know you are thinking about them  and want to encourage their interests. Find some aspect you can understand and join them where they are.

Issac playing online with a friend.
Issac playing online with a friend.

This will help you connect with them and really get a feel for what they are getting out of all the things they do on that form of media, and maybe even why. And as they feel you are really trying and aren’t going to “take it away” and that you aren’t frowning about it at them, they will loosen their hold on it a bit and gradually they will start joining you in the cool things you are doing (not all), they will start looking at the books, playing with the associated toys or crafts, and so on. (Many of us have minecraft posters on the wall, or Pokemon, or Skylanders, or Terraria, and books, and action figures, stuffies, houses full of geek references.) Meeting them where they are will help you feel connection with them again (which is usually where the parents panic when they start feeling the kids are doing “nothing but screen things”.) It takes time for both sides, but it is like learning another language and our kids get to do it first-hand and be prepared for this changing world where screens are an everyday all the time part of our lives.