Category: Untraditional Education

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.

Life is Beautiful and Teens are Awesome

The last couple months or so have been crazy busy.

Mr. Tumnus gets a new look.

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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.

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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.

 

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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.

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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.

 

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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.

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

 

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

 

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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!

A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on

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.

 

Dealing with Chores: Everyone gets Paid

I have been leery of writing about this since we have only really had a one week trial, well, a little over a week. But so far it is working. It is interesting to see what aspects are and what aspects aren’t. Also, Rachel is still out of town so that will change the dynamic when she returns but here goes.

You may remember, if you have read this site for anytime at all, that roughly 2 years ago we quit chores. No more chores. We were done. After that there were some whiny posts as I dealt with my own baggage regarding chores.

A lot has changed since then. I now work full time. The family is here all day without me, making messes without me here to clean up as I go. When Shamus isn’t working a lot he will do dishes or clean the bathroom and the kids pitch in occasionally but they are all busy with their own stuff and a clean house isn’t a huge priority to them. We still do Saturday Sabbath which is wonderful, and the house stays relatively clean because we don’t have a lot of “stuff” and we do have a pretty good system in place for that. The problem is that I work Sundays. Twelve hour Sundays. And Monday I like to rest and get caught up on computer stuff I missed out on at work. So coming home to a mess- dishes in the living room, dishes in the sink, random stuff on the table. Not huge messes but not neat, not calm, not clean, was getting frustrating. Working 36 hrs a week and then taking Grandma shopping each week and doing our own family shopping…well, I was getting cranky and exhausted. I was burning out. It isn’t that the family wasn’t getting anything done. They were but I was picking up the slack anytime it didn’t get done (I have higher standards of cleanliness than everyone else, except Issac- but he keeps his room and desk clean and doesn’t notice the rest), and most days it came down to me.

We needed a solution.  There were certain things we knew from past experience it had to be:

  1. It had to be elegant. Simple. Easy to implement. None of us have the energy or time to fuss with details. I hate lists and schedules. So does the rest of the family. So no lists, no schedules. No “standards”.
  2. It had to be something we could all do- no “kids get paid for jobs that parents do for free” (leading to cranky parents when kids choose not to help).
  3. It had to benefit everyone and everyone had to agree it was fair.
  4. It had to allow for various quality of work and reward accordingly.
  5. It had to be easy to figure out and make sure people got paid and work with when we couldn’t pay due to no money.

It was tricky to come up with something that would work for that list, but suddenly it all fell into place. We would pay per hour. That was it. For any work done to benefit the family that member would get paid. Each member has their own rate based on experience, quality of work, time taken to do work. After a lot of talking it out we came up with the kids starting at $5 per hour and myself and Shamus getting $10 per hour- I am faster and more experienced but not as meticulous, he is slower but super high quality work when he does it. Issac is like Shamus. Takes forever to do a load of dishes but every dish is perfectly clean, dry, and put away neatly. Es is more like me, hurried but doesn’t take long. We used “doing a load of dishes” as our measurement with the goal of “each family member earning roughly $2.50 for a whole  load of dishes. That is the job that needs done most often. That is the job that is most easily measured because we know how each person does the job. Each kid can up the quality/speed of their work and get paid more per hour. That is the only time they need to show us their work. They need to prove they have consistently upped the quality of their work in order to get a raise. Otherwise we have a sheet of notepaper on the wall and everyone just notes an estimate of time spent.  5 minutes sweeping the floor? Mark 5 min. on the sheet. An hour cleaning a room, or doing laundry, or shopping for groceries? Mark an hour. Whatever.

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This picture is from back when Issac was about 8. He is 12 now. I want to pat his head, the tiny thing. (He is now my height and about to pass me up.)

Yes, it takes trust, and we trust the kids and they trust us. It is up to them if they write something down or not. If they want to do something out of love then awesome. If they want to put down the time spent helping me take Grandma shopping then great. If they can’t remember exactly what time they started something and estimate, it is fine. No stress.

So how has the first week gone?

Esther worked 4.5 hours. She helped with several projects she would never have helped with in the past.  She worked harder in hopes of working her way up to $6 an hour. She also spent quite a bit of time figuring out the math behind how much she needed to save up for a game she wanted and helped her brother do the same. She worked till she had enough to buy the new game she wanted and stopped unless I asked for help for something, but it was still wonderful having a sparkling clean kitchen when I got home from work. She also learned a lot about how her sister and I, and pretty much every other person who has cleaned something only to have to do it again the next day,  feel about  cleaning the kitchen- “It is really frustrating, I worked so hard to get it really clean yesterday and already it is messy again and we have to do it all over again.”

Issac worked 2.5 hours and 10 minutes or something like that. Enough to buy a game he wanted and get his Roblox Builder’s Club for the month. He is talking about working a little each day so he can save up for a new computer but hasn’t gotten to the point of doing just yet.

Shamus worked 1.5 hours but  spent a lot of the time I was home and awake writing.

I worked 9.5 hours. That included some projects I had been putting off so isn’t really my norm. It was so much easier to do that knowing I was going to get some reimbursement for my time, that my time was important. I love serving my family, I have been doing it for 17 years now but it was nice to feel valuable, and also to feel like I wasn’t just spending money that needed to go to other things. The money I spend is “mine”. I can use it to buy people things but there is no guilt and no stress. (I recognize that I am working for my money “twice”. So is Shamus. It is more a system for divvying up money that lets everyone help out and feel valued. I am thinking in general I will end up closer to 4 hours a week, maybe 5, which is much more reasonable financially.

In general the house is staying cleaner- everyone knows how it feels to clean and have it messed up again and forming habits of cleaning up after themselves. The kids now have a real means of earning money towards bigger things, it is no longer in our hands, it is in theirs. Everyone is happy because we all have an easy way to get spending money. If we don’t have the money at the time then it will be “saved” until we do. I plan to finance my traveling out of that, as well as games clothes, treats, etc for all. This means we will likely, in the long run, spend less as a family than we normally do when money isn’t tight.

It will be interesting to see if this is something we can continue or if we find it is just too expensive or if it just falls to the way side. For now it is really working and we all are pretty happy with the results.

Addendum:

I neglected to add that I post jobs that need done to the door frame using mini post-it notes, which get tossed when a job is done (or for recurring jobs they get put in a pile). And for Sabbath prep I move the notes to the table so all can see what needs done an grab what they want to do.

It occurred to me that it is likely that, in the future, we could hire people for a set time for more regular job and have everyone sign up. For instance, “I would like to hire someone to do this job  each day and whoever wants it can do it each day or once a week or whatever. ” Or we can do a scheduled time each day more like a regular job. The possibilities are endless.   We could also offer an extra $1 an hour for certain jobs. For now we are keeping it simple and we will add to it as it is needed or as we figure out what works.

This has all already lead to a conversation about how  Issac would like to save us money by not charging. I pointed out that even better he could do more jobs and even if we are paying him, by not paying me he will be saving our family $5 an hour. He thought that was pretty cool.

Math in Art

*I am a lazy blogger. Mind you I have been blogging off and on since 1999. Why yes, I had a blog on the original “Blogger”. I remember vividly making one, being so excited (I had a new baby and was one of the early “mom bloggers”), and then Blogger reset everything after a crash and I lost my blog. We all had to start over. Sigh. Anyway, point is nowadays I seldom have time to blog, what with working full time, having 3 teenagers, running the Christian Unschooling facebook group (nearly 2000 members now), and well, life. So you mostly get posts that are reposts of things I have written elsewhere, because, posts.


The following is in response to a new to unschooling mom asking how to make sure her passionate about art daughter was learning math. Obviously my post here is proof read, formatted properly, etc unlike the original post which I wrote on the fly. 😀

Family Portrait- Heather Young 2010
Family Portrait- Heather Young 2010

With art, math is more of a natural thing that happens and less of a “this is math” thing. If I try thinking of math while I draw/paint my brain actually stops doing the type of art I want to do and I get too analytical to do the more organic work I prefer. (I play a lot of logic/puzzle video games which use the math part of the brain when doing programming and very architectural drawings and tend to spend more time watching vibrant/visually stunning animes and movies and listening to music when painting- helps my brain get into the right mode to work). That said you do use math naturally as an artist and it develops as you develop. So this is more for the mom and whoever else is worried about the child learning math than for her.

Book Dragon- Heather Young 2013
Book Dragon- Heather Young 2013

You use a lot of math think to do perspective, scaling things for drawings- whether up or down, composition, layout, proportions, as well as anytime you work on a realistic drawing it is all in your head visual math. The only art I can think of that does not use math as a default would be doing complete abstract (and many abstract pieces are full of math). Anytime you are taking something real world and putting it on paper (including fantasy and manga style, but I am saying, anything you could build and see rather than abstract concepts) you are using an organic math in your head to decide where things go and how they fit and where the lines should go. Mostly it is because when God created the world He filled it with patterns and lines and you can’t draw without replicating those at least in part, and the more you do it and the better you get the more math you are actually using, whether you recognize it or not.

Dragon Daydreams- Heather Young 2013
Dragon Daydreams- Heather Young 2013

Nowadays I can actually see myself doing it, and my art is much better because of it, though when I was young, math made me panic and I had to “ignore” the fact that I was using it and rather intuit it to get it figured right. I still intuit it, but I also intuit most math in other things- if I think about numbers my brain switches them around (there is a name for it- it is called “dyscalculia”- makes doing bills extra interesting), but if I let myself not think about them and intuit the answer it is almost always right.

Beach House Portrait- Heather Young 2009
Beach House Portrait- Heather Young 2009

There is a big difference between conceptual math and arithmetic- arithmetic is 1+1 and people naturally get that stuff because we use clocks and money, bake and play games, and everything else in the real world that uses arithmetic every day. Art, on the other hand, uses a lot of conceptual math- the scientist/mathematician stuff that most people don’t think of as “math”, it is just another form of that. Seeing patterns and using them to know where to put lines and color and shape is much more conceptual than it is arithmetic . That said artists do also use basic arithmetic for figuring proportions and things in more complicated drawings and layout- think M.C. Escher type stuff.

St. Mary's Convent, Freeport, PA- Heather Young 2010
St. Mary’s Convent, Freeport, PA- Heather Young 2010

More on the difference between conceptual math and arithmetic here: http://www.christianunschooling.com/math-think/

Art Media series #2 ACEO- Heather Young 2012
Art Media series #2 ACEO- Heather Young 2012

Also, is you want to see where I am actually posting my art nowadays on a semi-regular basis you can visit my tumblr here: Pocket Lint of the Soul

Rachel Travels

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Rachel with her Asian Onion bun.

Our oldest is back in Texas for a 3 week visit. Everything fell in place perfectly for her to spend her 16th birthday there at her best friends’ home so we went ahead despite winter’s unpredictable weather.

Rachel with her Asian Onion bun.
Rachel with her Asian Onion bun.

The first day of the trip was awesome despite the bus leaving an hour late and driving straight through due to snow and ice. She made friends with a girl about her age from China who barely spoke English. She helped her  get where she need to be and do what she needed to do. They watched their favorite shows together (Thor  which they watched in English with Chinese subtitles and Heartstrings- a Korean drama which they watched in Korean with English subtitles). They shared Rachel’s food (there was snow and ice and they were running late so they they didn’t stop at any of the normal stops for food). It was amazing and wonderful and Rue was thrilled that God was clearly in this trip.

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Look at my onion bun!

The second day was HARD. She had a pack of Pocky left for her breakfast and wouldn’t get in till 9:30pm. (I really wish I had bought her a few more buns at the Asian grocery store (I ran in while she waited in line to get check in.) They were running really late still so weren’t making any stops and when they did stop there were only broken machines. At one point the bus broke down. She had a layover in Oklahoma City with no way to get food as the machines were all broken. Finally they got to Amarillo where she missed her transfer and her luggage had gone missing (they think it went to Dallas but so far no one is sure as it hasn’t turned up yet yet.) She ended up stuck in Amarillo, well after the time she was supposed to be in Lubbock, after everything had closed, waiting for our friends to drive an extra hour to come pick her up with no way to get any food and no luggage.

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Waiting and waiting and waiting. She was standing in line for over an hour and a half.

They took her to eat, took her home, found some clean clothes for her to wear, and they all crashed. Today they are heading into the city to the Greyhound station to see if they can track down her luggage and go thrift shopping for some new clothes to tide her over. A friend is sending a replacement for her Bamboo Tablet (which was in her luggage) and she received another pair of headphones as a late Christmas gift. So the big things that were lost (if the luggage isn’t found) have been replaced. Her brother gave her some money for her birthday and she will receive a little more which will help cover the rest of her loss. Not the most fun way of spending your 16th birthday but being with her best friends will make up for it.

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Finally getting on the bus!

We are praying that her luggage does show up and soon since we aren’t sure how much to replace and what to wait for. Regardless it will make a great story someday and she still has 2.5 weeks of time with her friends before she gets to deal with Greyhound again.

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On the bus. Finally.

Everything in its Season

*I wrote this in my Christian unschooling  group in response to a young mom with a 15 month old wondering if she would ever have time to do all the things she wanted to, to learn all the things she was interested in learning. It occurred to me that she is not alone. I remember being that young mom wondering if I would ever get a full nights sleep let alone  be able to do things I was interested in, things that weren’t just about my family. And how were all these super moms doing it all? 

This is just a season. Everything in its seasons. Pregnancy is a season. New baby is a season. Toddler is a season. There was a season of me stuck at home in a new town with hubby gone all day, pregnant and with a toddler. We had a season of 3 kids under 5- all in diapers at least part of the time. A season where one child was constantly in and out of the hospital. Several seasons where I was too sick to get out of bed. We have also had seasons of going all the time. Of passionately learning new things- I have learned a little of several languages (Not a natural language person so it is more osmosis for me- watching a lot of tv in that language and just exposing myself to it). Learning to cook for food allergies. Learning natural remedies and cheap healthy foods. Learning wild crafting and herbal-ism. Learning how to be a homemaker. Writing a book. Editing and publishing my own and my husband’s books. Marketing books and art. Learning to code html and php. Hosting and maintaining websites for myself and others. Blogging. Reading the Bible through multiple times and really studying it. Researching pretty much everything. Running several websites and Faecbook groups. Learning to fix things myself and then doing it. Working for an antique appraiser. Working as a caretaker for an elderly woman. Taking care of my own grandparents.

 

I have been married 17 years now. I have a nearly 16 yr old, a 14 yr old, and a 12 year old. There have been many many seasons. There are many seasons to come. I have no idea what will come next. Some of the seasons rotate around my children. Others around other friends or family members. Some mostly around myself.

The biggest trick is learning to focus on the here and now- to do the next thing and not worry about the other stuff, but also knowing this IS just a season so you can enjoy it fully. You can keep your goals in mind, you can have a list, the list will change. Your passions will change.

One of the wonderful things about unschooling is that passion for learning in YOU will encourage the passion for learning in your children so when you hit a season where you can you do- you study and research and learn. And when you hit a new season you do what you need to do for that one. And you build on all that stuff that you have learned and are able to learn and grow more and it benefits your kids as you do so.

Just Life

Life has been busy.

Awesome family photos by http://halseymae.com
Awesome family photos by http://halseymae.com

Crazy busy.

Rachel and Esther
I have been working overtime.

3 Christian radical unschooling families together.
3 Christian radical unschooling families together.

We have gotten together with fellow unschooling friends from all over every single week for almost 2 months.

At the zoo with friends.
At the zoo with friends.

Rachel took a 2 week trip to visit her friends in Arizona and Texas.

At the bus station, about to leave.
At the bus station, about to leave.

Shamus is writing a video game- but you knew that.

Shamus and Heather
Shamus and Heather

I have gotten sick enough to have to call off work. Twice. I still have a cough that will not die.

Like I said. Fun photo shoot.
Like I said. Fun photo shoot. And yes, the photo has been double copyrighted- my friend Tina took the photos, which I added a copyright for on Facebook then reused and added a regular for my site and I am too lazy (or too busy) to go back and fix.

The kids are suddenly tall- Issac is the only one NOT taller than me and he is getting there fast. And he is getting a mustache. For real. And a deep voice.And he just turned 12.

Rachel's shoes
Rachel’s shoes

The girls? They are 5’7.5″ and 5’9″.

Kids
Kids

The Christian Unschooling  group I run on Facebook (with a small group of admins) has reached over 1,600 people. I have an awesome group of admins. Really. They are wonderful.

At the zoo with RCU friends
At the zoo with RCU friends

Life is going by in a streak.

With Jennifer of The Path Less Taken (http://jennifermcgrail.com ) and Teresa- a fellow radical unschooler and dear friend from only 3 hrs away. Both mother's of my daughters' closest friends.
With Jennifer of The Path Less Taken (http://jennifermcgrail.com ) and Teresa- a fellow radical unschooler and dear friend from only 3 hrs away. Both mother’s of my daughters’ closest friends.

And it is good.

A Thought about Stress

Think about a time you have been under a lot of stress.

A person you know and respect gets angry and starts yelling at you for reasons you don’t understand.

Your boss berates you for something out of your control.

A close friend is struggling with stress at home and lashes out at you about something trivial.

A bereaved loved one takes their frustrations out on you.

A dear friend misunderstands something you said and refuses to discuss it or listen to what you meant.

A client is angry about a situation you have no control over and takes it out on you.

A bossy family member insists you do things their way when you know it would not be best.

Your spouse had a bad day and lays into you about something unrelated.

You mess up in a big way and feel bad but don’t know how to fix it because you know the person involved won’t take it well.

You screw up and try to fix it but don’t manage to do it right and the other person is furious.

You are trying to learn something new, working really hard at it, and someone teases you for not getting it already.

Someone treats you as a second class citizen because of something you can do nothing about.

Someone blames you for something you didn’t do.

Someone with more experience, expects you to understand why they do what they do but doesn’t attempt to do the same for you.

Someone demands you show them respect when they show you none in return.

Someone belittles you in front of others.

How do you feel?
Does fight or flight kick in?
Do you panic?
Do you fight back?
Do you empathize and realize that person is having a bad day, week, year and stay calm?
Do you belittle the other person?
Do you try to make peace?
Do you take it all on yourself, blame yourself, and accept full responsibility even if it wasn’t your fault?

How does your heart feel?
Do you have anxiety? Stress? Do you just move on as if nothing had happened? Do you internalize it and hold on to it? Does just the thought of the situation make you sick inside?

What if this was a regular occurrence? What if you were dealing with this person on a regular basis? What if their treatment of you was constantly belittling, blaming, or just plain stressful? What would you do? How would you respond?

Would you lash out at them?
Would you respect them?
Would you be timid around them?
Would you avoid them completely?
Would you feel sick all the time at the thought of dealing with them?
Would you willingly tell them everything or avoid speaking to them as much as possible?

This. This is what we do to our children.

This is what we do when we are having a bad day and lash out at them for knocking over their water.

This is what we do to them when we get angry at the mess they left and didn’t notice.

This is what we do when we accuse them of motives they had not even considered.

This is what we do when they don’t know what they did wrong or we misunderstand but don’t listen.

This is what we do to them when they are having a bad day and we belittle their feelings or even get angry at them.

This is what we do when we tease about past mistakes, point out failings, make fun of what they like.

This is what we do when we treat children like second class citizens, demand respect without showing them respect.

If we as adults get sick, stressed, frustrated, try to escape, or place blame when others treat us like this. If we get angry when we feel we have been unjustly accused or when others attribute motives to us that we had never considered. If this is true of us, mature adults who have had plenty of time and experience to learn how to deal with these situations, how much more so for children, who have not yet learned empathy, who are still learning how to navigate the world, and have people they love and should be able to trust treating them this way on a regular basis? No wonder teenagers refuse to share what is upsetting them, refuse to talk about how they feel, prefer to hide what is going on lest they get blamed or berated. By the time these children reach young adulthood they have spent the large majority of their life living with constant stress and dealing with loved ones who treat them with less than respect.

What if, instead, you are treated with gentleness and respect? What if in a misunderstanding the other person regularly gives you the benefit of the doubt, values both your feelings and your opinions? What if the other person, treats you with respect and grace and gentleness rather than blaming and demanding respect?

What about our children? What if they are respected, treated with gentleness and understanding? What if we recognize that they are struggling way more than we see as they learn to navigate this world? What if, instead of assuming they are just doing things to get on our nerves, we recognize that they are having a rough time, they are in pain, struggling to learn something new? What if – instead of rushing them to new things because we are sick of picking the same toy off the floor in their new game – we stick with it, recognizing that they are learning something- that this game is part of their development and that it takes lots of repetition for them to figure it out? What if when they make mistakes as youngsters we try to understand what is going on both what really happened and if there are any struggles we have been missing? What if when they lash out because they are having a rough time we recognize it as just that and look deeper, helping them work through all those emotions? What if, by the time they are teens they have had lots of grace and understanding (real understanding)? What if they really know they are loved and respected because they have had the opportunity to live with love and respect- where their opinions and feelings really matter?

Which young person is going to be healthier and happier? The one who lived with constant stress or the one who lived in a world where he felt valued? Which one is going to make better decisions? The one who is afraid to talk to her parents and so just lies or the one who knows they will really listen and help? Which is going to be more mature and ready to face the real world? The one who has spent most of his life bullied or the one who knows himself well enough to know who he is and what he really wants? Which is going to have the healthiest relationships? The one who has lived in unhealthy relationships or the one who knows her value?