Category: Education

Shamus’ Autoblography

Things are crazy busy around here but I wanted to hop on and point out (for those who don’t already read Shamus’ site– though I know most of you do) that Shamus has been writing an autobiography of sorts on his blog. A lot of it explains why we specifically unschool and how his particular view of the US education system formed through his own experiences as well as how we met (today’s post was about our first date.) You can find it here.

That is all.

Goings ons: GAPS, unschooling, work and more

So I have been a bit busy. I mean, I am ALWAYS busy in the summer, but this is unusually busy. Some of it has been the Christian Unschooling Facebook group which take as lot of my time as I am admin there. Some of it has been learning new things: between Pinterest (you can find me here) and Google + (find me here). BTW both programs are wonderful but I am really, really in love with Google +. The artist community there is amazing and inspiring.

We are still on the GAPS diet and it is still helping.

 

P1090081

  • Rachel has been able to fully add multiple foods into her diet that triggered full SJS symptoms before– including lemon, chicken, and ginger.  She can also be around tomato and apple without symptoms (just being in the same room with them would trigger a reaction before.)  She has also had plenty of energy and zero RA symptoms since going on the diet.
  • Issac is doing very well on the diet though he now has added regular raw milk in (it is something he can fix himself quickly and will always drink.)  He doesn’t like broth so I make reductions with whatever he is eating — kind of like gravy which works well.
  • Esther was doing very well until she started forgetting to eat and just started drinking straight raw milk all the time. Around that time she contracted a stomach bug, her system got all out of whack and she has to restart intro  in order to heal.  We are nearly back to where she was already and she is now able to eat way more foods than she could before without enzymes.
  • I am continuing to heal well though we ran out of grass fed beef and it is hard to get around here without ordering quarter (which we are doing but it will take 8 weeks to get.)  I can now eat chicken and eggs with no reaction though after years of being allergic I am really nervous of it.  Up until this week I have had no RA symptoms at all.  This week we ran out of broth and I have been slightly stiff (no big flare-ups) and dealing with the exhaustion that comes when I am dealing with what would be a flareup if I were eating a regular diet.  Considering that in the past the first weeks of August are my worst flare-up times and have meant me on crutches most years I am doing exceptionally well.
Unschooling is still going on:

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  • It has become so much of our lifestyle that I seldom think about it anymore.  The kids as always are doing all sorts of things– mostly on the computer (but what do you expect when most of their parents time is spent on the computer?)
  • Rachel is spending a lot of time playing piano, watching anime, drawing manga, learning Japanese, focusing on being more independent, reading the driver’s handbook again and again (she can’t wait to get her license in 3 years),  playing Minecraft and WoW and doing odd jobs for money.
  • Esther is spending much time reading, on Minecraft, Roblox, and Sims 3, drawing, and trying to get her sleeping and eating into healthy patterns so she grows properly (her goal not mine).
  • Issac is spending lots of time playing with his Fisher Price castle, pirates, and submarine thanks to finding more parts via my brother and the thrift shop.  He is also really into Roblox and Minecraft, chemistry, and electricity.
Work stuff:
  • Shamus finally got paid.  It was a year in coming but it is here which means we are no longer struggling (though we still can’t make the full house payment since we need to make this last — since who knows the next time we will get paid. :))
  • This means that part of our current work is figuring out how best to spend on the big things (ordering things we use in bulk, paying off bigger debts, and generally learning how to live on freelancer income.)
  • Shamus is working on a game engine and a book and is thinking about another book.  He is currently working on a game proposal for the game engine as he has potential backers, finishing the first book, and thinking on the new book.  We are also considering different ways of monetizing his site more efficiently.
  • I am working on some more book illustrations/cover art, several portraits, and have some website work on the backburner (waiting for clients to get back to me.)
  • The card game is out and for sale (once we get the cost of making it paid off in sales then we get a chunk in proceeds so…go buy a copy, or two or three?  It makes an awesome gift, is fun to play even as adults, is fast paced and educational (math, history –since I made the costumes and everything involved historically accurate to the 16th century, reading, logic).  My kids love it as do other unschooling friends who have played it.  It is also easy to adapt to other games or for more than 2 people.
Provision:
  • It has been amazing how God has provided this last year and we are trying to learn from the experience and make wise decisions for the future.  He has made sure we have had all we needed despite our lack of funds and it has been awesome to see how various people have stepped in  and provided where work did not.  Shamus’s readers on his website are absolutely amazing as their random gifts saw us through many tight spots, as did several families who took us on and sponsored us, making sure we had what we needed.  We praise the Lord for all of their help.  Our personal goal is to make this (which the Lord has lead us to) work.  To avoid needing to eat into the chunk of  money we have been paid for previous work done and to instead of try to work our way out of the debt we are in.  We want to get to the position where we can freely give and help those in need out of our excess instead of just out of our tithe.  We are praying that the Lord will get us to that point via the work He has provided for us to do.  That said the life of a freelancer may not be easy but it is always interesting.

 

Provision

Green Energy Snap Circuits
Issac saved up his birthday/Christmas money to get these. Just ordered them and got them right before our derf we ar a lmost out of money moment..

We have been, for several months, gratefully living off the money we got back from the government (via paying our taxes) for which we have been very, very grateful.  The problem is we knew it wouldn’t last.  We didn’t go crazy and buy all sorts of things– except for stocking up on the things we had been out of for some time, getting a few things to replace broken other things (though not replacing all the broken appliances– well attempting to, but when the replacements also broke we just waited).  So we are at that place.  The place where we are back relying on Jehovah Jireh daily.  The oldest isn’t too thrilled as she doesn’t like being uncomfortable at all but here we are.  SO I thought I should share what all He has been doing (though I have been sharing daily on Facebook and on the CU group.)

 

Moraine State Park
Impromptu trip to Moraine on a very hot sunny day.

When we realized how low we were getting we did the same thing we always do– avoided paying the bills.  We are awful that way.  Then we went to pay the bills and realized, wow, we really are low– too low to buy groceries.  Okay, now what God?  (I hate that we do that, but we both do, especially as it almost always happens when Shamus is sleeping during the day and we aren’t seeing each other except when one of us is falling asleep.

Green Energy Snap Circuits
Intent on his new kit.
  • Right around that time I got a spur of the moment, last minute, please help us get this done in time book cover job (thanks Grace!) which paid for a bill that needed paid NOW.  The book is here: http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Keven-Newsome/dp/tags-on-product/0987653105, the cover was nearly done, just needed to place some text and clean it up for print.  Holly Heisey did the cover and it is lovely.
  • I helped a friend transfer her blog for fun and she sent us gift cards for a local restaurant– which is awesome and will provide a much needed date with Mr. Hubbypants (if our sleep EVER lines up again!)
  • The first thing that happened, immediately following paying bills is I started really analyzing the cost of GAPS foods and deciding what was most important.  We then realized that trips to Broadrun farms were VERY important as raw milk, meat, and eggs are the cheapest nutrition for us.  So, knowing we didn’t have the money we prayed that God would provide.  And around the time that we HAD to leave I got money via paypal through the same friend who sent us the gift cards!  Enough for everything we needed at the farm!  YAH!  (And thanks to my grandma I had enough gas to go!)
  • If you follow my husband at all you will know that he was finishing up his book, Libreoffice hiccuped and LOST 3 days of work– which was HUGE and he was devastated.  Then a reader sent him a free gift of  Word (the “good  version–can’t remember which year).  He was grateful but felt it wasn’t time to get back into it– which is fine because he works in his head like I do, THEN put sit on paper.
  • Because of that he suddenly got back into programming and started working on a game engine again– and is going at warp speed doing what he calls the best programming he has ever done.  Which is awesome and I am excited to see where God takes that.
  • I have multiple jobs right now, all of which will help pay the bills in the coming month (some things due soon so that is awesome.)
  • Right after I had a huge panic attack about where the money would come from, God started putting everything into place.   A friend sent us not only enough to renew our Science Center Membership (which he says we should do) but also added enough to pay some bills and keep us in food until these jobs pay.  Praise the Lord–some stress relieved.
  • Another friend was doing a rummage sale at her church and told me to let her know what appliances we had that had died so she could watch for them.  Then she offered to pick them up at the pre-sale (just for helpers) so I would get them.  THEN when I tried to pay her she said no!  So now we have all new small appliances to replace all our broken ones!
Moraine State Park
Moraine State Park, Pa

Unschooling Revelation

I just walked in and saw my son watching Beakman’s World. Instead of getting upset that he was “just sitting there”, I had a revelation.

He was watching a movie that he wanted to watch and therefore gleaning as much as he could from it. (Unlike when someone makes you watch something and part of your brain is thinking about all the stuff it would rather be doing.) So here he was, learning, just like he usually is, whether he is playing a video game, watching a movie, playing with Legos, whatever. So essentially what he was doing was educational.

In the past I, like a lot of moms, would have gotten upset because I want to make him be useful. I’m trying to prepare the house for Sabbath, I’m hurting, and I need help.

Here is the thing. People pack their children off to school, every school day, for 7 hours (and if they have a long bus ride like I did, 8 or 9 hours.) There they sit and do many educational things all day that do not engage them. For the most part, they don’t really care about these things and ask why they have to learn them. In between those 20 minute educational lectures/lessons (I am generalizing here– when I was teaching some lessons were as short as 10 minutes, others were up to an hour long) they stand in line, get out books and put them away, get a drink, eat lunch, take electives where they have to take out and put away, wait for their classmates to finish their work, do extra busy work that is there for classroom management not for actual education, spend a few minutes talking to friends while waiting in line or during recess, get shushed, corrected, and so on. They take tests to prove that they remember what the teacher told them, wait for others to finish their tests, loose pencils/books/etc, spend time finding all of those lost items, and all sorts of other activities that are not beneficial to the adults at home and may or may not be educational. The wasted time in a school room is an issue teachers know well and which we are taught in our classroom management classes.

Start the year with review of last year. Then learn something new. Then review that thing. Then take time to study that thing. (I hope you haven’t mastered the subject, because there’s nothing else to do in the classroom right now.) Then finally take a test about the thing. Then forget about the thing and move on to a new thing. Even on rare days when new information is imparted, it’s usually teaching for the test, not teach the subject for the purposes of knowledge and understanding. We were told to expect about 20-30 minutes of actual new content being taught and the rest of the day being remedial and managing the class. Half an hour of learning. Out of eight.

Now a classically homeschooled kid has a lot more time at home (when they aren’t running to outside things like sports and dance classes– lots of time in the car for those). The parents spend much of their home time planning, organizing, teaching, and keeping the child on task (and anyone who has done classical homeschool can tell you that that takes a TON of energy, though of course it depends on the kid.) So let’s say the child spends 4 hours doing book work. (Some do much more, some do much less.) They may or may not be interested in what they are being taught and some are learning a lot more than others. For those who aren’t learning then there is repetition and practice and the parent trying to find new ways to teach the lesson. During that time the child is being taught by the parent, which means the parent is pulled away from the other things the parent could be doing. On a good day everything goes smoothly and everyone finishes their work with no tears. On a bad day…well. When we were more classical most days were bad days. The rest of the day is often taken with chores and outside activities though they certainly get more downtime to explore their own interests.

The thing is, in both of those situations the child is only expected to be doing educational activities for much of the day (including all those extracurricular activities) and that child may or may not be getting anything out of ANY of those educational opportunities. Yet here I am with a child who is actively learning regardless of what he is doing because he is full engaged in what he is doing. He’s doing it because he IS interested and wants to learn more about it, and I am going to complain because he is JUST watching TV? Meanwhile, if he were sitting in a class he’d likely be doing a time-sink worksheet that exists only to slow down the faster kids and keep them busy while the slow kids catch up. Is that really better than television?

How messed up my thinking has been. I had forgotten the point was to see him learning, to look for the learning going on instead of keeping my own personal servant. I should point out here that he had already spent quite a bit of time helping me today and he often does helpful things out of love instead of being coerced, just like I do things to serve him, out of love. It is so easy to forget all the helpful things that he does do when I notice him sitting there “doing nothing” while I am busy.

I CU

Intensive Care for the Christian Unschooler– this will be a weekly meme (you post the questions to your blog each Wednesday that you are able, using one of the buttons to link back here, and hop over here and add your site to the linky at the bottom.)

“This week we want to…” do a whole list of things, literally. The kids made a list at roughly midnight Sunday night. It is long and includes a slew of foods they want to make (on the GAPS diet, learning lots of new recipes so much of learning is focused on that.) For instance today we kicked crossed 2 things from the list– making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (made almond/banana bread) and had ice cream for breakfast (homemade raw milk with honey). Also made the kids lunch meat and hot dogs– two other things on the list. To aid them in this endeavor I made a list of links on delicious specifically for them, so we can quickly look up all the recipes I am finding.

“The kids are…” playing a lot of Roblox and thus learning about bullying and other behaviors.

“I am learning….” to make kombucha! Made my first batch from a scoby I made from bought kombucha. Very exciting. Just bottled my first batch!

“I am struggling with…” too much social interaction. Need to walk away from the computer more often now that so much is going on on the Christian Unschooling group. I get super moody and wiped out if I over interact– it literally drains me. Also need to find some way NOT to be leaving the house EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Too much is enough. I am working on saying yes more often to the kids (not yes you can do something evil but yes lets find a creative way that you can do what you want if not now in the future.) It is adding to the peaceful-ness of the household, and the kids are helping get creative with solutions– great for problem solving skills.
A great example is that the kids love Larabars. They want to eat them all but at $1.25 per bar even for the bulk ones I got so we would have them on hand when we left the house, well, I just can’t let them. These have to last us a long time. So we talked about solutions. I told them that they can eat as many as they want as long as they paid me for them so I could replace them (they have money– gifts and money they earn). Then I said that I would MAKE my own version so they had something similar when they wanted, which they could eat the rest of the time. They loved the idea and all are happy now. (I make them anyway, and they like them, but those packaged ones have wrappers and that makes them appealing.) Here is a link to all sorts of homemade larabar recipes, in case you want to make your own too.

“This week is the first time….” I made my own kombucha and made my own salami-like lunch meat. I have made roast beef lunch meat before but Rach really wanted lunch meat and I couldn’t afford a grassfed roast but I did have plenty of hamburger. This is also the first time Shamus and I have worked together to fix something. I ADORE fixing broken things and problem solving and usually get together with my brother and have tons of fun seeing what will fix random broken things around the house. Shamus….not so much. He just gets angry. This time we had fun tearing apart the mower and applying all sorts of internet and book knowledge and it was the advice of one of his readers that did it! YAH!



 

I CU

I CUWe have a new weekly meme up at the Christian Unschooling site called I CU.  The following are the statements/questions for everyone to fill in (or if you are feeling really inspired share a photo for each:)):


This week we want to…
honestly I don’t know.  My brain is so tired from trying to get the CU site in order, update the theme, get the groups on Facebook organized (and combined) and just keeping up with everything plus the GAPS diet (which is going fine but which I really need to come up with some meals for) and all the other stuff, well, the kids have been really doing their own thing because I have been busy.  Right now most of the stuff that is happening is external.  My grandmother just moved to an assisted living place not far from us which means I am spending a lot of time running errands for her and visiting (we have always gone once a week because she lived half an hour away now she is only 10 minutes away.)  That combined with the new Facebook groups, several sites I am working on for clients, the CU site, and taking care of the house and food stuff (all learning curves) and I am brain dead.  (Shamus is writing his book again, which is AWESOME but it means I have less help as he needs to focus when writing.

The kids are working on different projects.  Rachel and Esther are working on essays for a contest over at Gaming Angels to win a scholarship to National Computer Camp— both of them desperately want to win.  Rachel has spent the last couple days working on it and we are all pretty excited to see how far she has come with her writing– she actually had 900 words and needs to get it down to 500-600.  Oooo, and Issac has found a series of books he LOVES and is willing to help me read (he reads the first page of the chapter, I read the rest).  It is really adorable (though there have been a few things that I skip– like using God as a swear word.  Sigh.)  But the really awesome thing is not only is he asking me to read aloud to him nightly but he is finally asking for “just one more chapter” which my little engineer never does.  So that is pretty exciting.

I am learning Hebrew, how out of website ideas I am (working on the CU site and my brain is dead), a new technique for sketching out my paintings.  I am also learning how to get regular meals going for the GAPS diet because I keep forgetting due to all the other work I am doing.

I am struggling with change, people, and fears.  In general I like change but sometimes it makes me uncomfortable:

For instance, right now we are dealing with the very real possibility of losing our house but we don’t know and maybe God will step in and provide yet again (as He has throughout this whole time we have been living off what He provides– and He HAS provided, everything but the mortgage.)  And it is really the potential change combined with fear and not knowing that is getting to me.  So, I need to be leaning on Him here instead of trying to solve the problem on my own (which almost never works.)

Sometimes change makes me disappointed:

Like today when I realized my husband was, after a frustrating day of not getting work on his book done due to interruptions, up all night writing which means a new change of rhythm for the household.  Every month or so we have to adjust to a new rhythm and we had just gotten comfortable in this one and had hoped it would last. So I am sad knowing the kids are disappointed (less time with Daddy when he is working all night and sleeping all day) and that their sleep is going to shift so they can get more time with him, not to mention it will ruin potentially plans already made, especially if it shifts anymore (unlike most he finds it impossible to stay up for something and be coherent unless his body is doing the shifting– so more fear as I realize he might miss Rachel’s piano recital after all– which will devastate her.  SO, changing subject before I think of more fears…..

People.  I am currently angry at several people (and not liking them very much) because I feel they have been unreasonable, which makes me want to avoid them.  I am praying about this because first, these people do tend to suck the life out of me and even when we are on good terms I come away drained.  

This week is the first time…. Rachel has written something long and been willing to really go back and edit multiple times so she can get it right.  I am so proud of her.  Keeping in mind that she is severely dyslexic and this is the first time she has willingly submitted to editing and has done multiple drafts.  In fact she was up early , all excited because she wanted her daddy to help her edit.

So, having written all this I realize just how overwhelmed I am and I hadn’t even realized it.  And no wonder, really.  On the other hand, I need to hand all the worries over to God (really) and STOP IT.  Just STOP IT.

Now, its your turn. And when you do I CU on your blog, link up so we can all be in it together.


Plank Pullin’: Packrat edition

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5, style.

So, I have been talking a lot about this new adventure where we don’t tell my kids to do chores anymore and they actually step in and do stuff around the house when asked (once only) or even, get this, without  being asked!  A lot?  It is the ONLY thing I have been talking about lately but that is because it is HUGE for us and it is taking up a lot of my thinky brain– you all will be TOTALLY SICK OF IT by the time I am finished, trust me. It is almost as if this whole “unschoooling” thing actually works when applied to other areas of life– who knew (and those of you who did, hush up– you have one a beautiful job not saying I told you so and I would appreciate it if you continued NOT saying I told you so. :))

So, it is still on my mind because I am still working through it so of course this week’s Plank Pullin’ is totally about that.

Here is the thing: I am messy. I like to have things look neat and deliberately get rid of clutter so it is easier to keep things neat (used to be a total pack rat–took 6 moves to make me stop)– when we have a lot of stuff I stash things and pile all the stuff I don’t know what to do with in one corner/drawer/cupboard/out of site.   My husband is fairly messy as well– he likes things neat and clean (no bugs) and will keep his desktop clean (well he declutters a lot more often than I do– you do NOT get to see my desktop but just know that as long as I have a spot for my water bottle I am happy) and if something starts bugging him he will do something about it, not complain to me about it.  He is also my absent minded professor– so when someone asks who left the cheese out, it was probably him. 🙂

So WHY am I surprised that my kids are packrats and tend to leave things behind when they are doing something (my oldest especially.)  They get it from US!  And my biggest pet peeve, the stufing and putting off doing something?  ME! ME! ME!  They get it from ME!

Oops.

You see, this week I helped my oldest rearrange her room (so she had a “wall” between her and her younger sister’s bed) and whilst doing that helped her clean the pile of junk she shoved into the closet when she was having company.  I was angry and irritated about that pile.  REALLY irritated.  I had been asking her to clean it up for over a month.  This time I stopped asking and just helped because I knew she hated the mess and was overwhelmed by it.  I was also upset that she still had a laundry basket full of clean clothes sitting on the floor.  She gave me all sorts of excuses and I just got cranky about it.

The things is?  I have a similar pile in my bedroom. Several similar piles.  Sure they aren’t full of garbage like hers (well the bottom of my closet might be since that is where presents get stashed and all those little wrappers and tags end up there, and there might be packing materials and random bits of stuff mixed in with the big pile but…..)  I also have a pile of clothes that I can’t be bothered to hang up (because I forget what I have if I hang it up–the closet door closes and I can’t see through it :)) and a huge pile of things that I have move from other parts of the house as we cleaned– because I didn’t know what to do with this stuff.

Did you see the excuses?

Yeah.

See God keeps showing me that MY attitude and actions are what the kids are seeing and copying (also that some of this stuff is just hereditary–you should see all the stuff my brother’s collect, and my dad, and my grandparents:)).  So whether I choose to clean up my own act I REALLY need to remember that I have my own messes to deal with first, THEN I can help them clean up theirs.

I have also found that when something really doesn’t work for them I need to adapt things so they WILL work for them.  Which is why my kids don’t have drawers– they, like me, stash things in drawers then forget about them (every drawer in our house is a junk drawer except those in the kitchen cabinets that hold designated items).  They used to dump their drawers on the floor every time they got dressed.  So we got rid of the drawers and put in shelves.  We find that having too many clothes leads to mess–they get overwhelmed looking for things that actually fit/feel right, so we go through and get rid of what doesn’t fit or feel right.  If a certain type of storage doesn’t work for me, I get rid of it and move to something that does, so we do the same thing for them. 🙂

Just had some tea with my oldest and discussed all the things that we have in common, that drive each other crazy– the messes, staying up all night playing video games, the interrupting, the… you get the idea.  And she pointed out how angry she used to get when I would yell at her for something that I do.  Yeah.  Working on it.

 

Unschooling Monday: Mother’s Day edition

So I decided to join in Owlet’s Unschool Monday (thanks to Jessica at Bohemian Bowmans).

Since beginning our “Mom stops telling the kids do stuff around the house” experiment,  the kids have cleaned out the car, done the dishes, mowed the lawn, done the laundry, helped clean up the kitchen, helped me make food, helped me prepare to go pick up raw milk, cleaned up the backyard and picked up the big sticks that have blown down–some of which I asked, some of which I didn’t, all without me asking more than once.  They have also made dinner, baked a cake (grain free GAPS friendly), spent a lot of time watching movies and playing video games (specifically Harvest Moon and Minecraft), rode bikes, spent time laying in the grass watching the clouds, helped with the laundry, made multiple messes, cleaned up some messes–both their own and others though not all of either, made some great choices, made some bad choices, and frankly have very much been kids.  And honestly, it is pretty much the same stuff they would be doing anyway, but with a lot more helping out around the house with a lot less whining from them (I can’t guarantee that I am not doing more whining though mine is silent…waaaa.)

Grain free white bean cake
The GAPS friendly grain-free white bean cake Rach made me for Mother's Day (with a lot of help from me since I didn't have the ingredients all on hand--but it was GOOD.

I didn’t say anything about the experiment to the kids until the end of the week (when I pulled them aside and told them what had happened and why.) However on Thursday my middle “miss perceptive” child came over to me as said, “Mom, since you stopped yelling at us and telling us what to do we are doing a whole lot more stuff” (mind you I didn’t TELL them I was going to do this, that was part of the experiment, just stopped cold turkey). She then went on to say that she thought it was because they felt more responsible and grown up and able to choose what they felt they should do to help out and so it felt good when they did help out and they didn’t resent it.

Esther
Esther lying on the floor at my grandmother's new apartment. I don't know either but this is how I felt on Sunday.

I should also mention that right before they came and started helping I was feeling VERY overwhelmed and poor me and no one is going to help me and waaaaaa. And then I remembered that this had been a HUGE thing in our marriage for a while (about 8 years ago all the way back to us as newly weds 14 years ago)– me doing the housework and resenting every second and my husband resenting me resenting him. Like I said, obviously I have huge heart issues regarding housework.  Of course right after all that they started helping but I also got sick (with the same cold thing that they have had which accounts for much of the not helping that has happened.)

And between feeling sick, hormones, and not wanting to deal with Mother’s Day because my own mom died a few years ago and I still am not keen on Mother’s Day I was a crank for Mother’s Day so my heart attitude didn’t get much better there especially since everyone else is also still feeling kind of cruddy and no one wanted to help with anything.  Then the kids picked up and decided to make dinner (meatball soup and eggplant Parmesan– very good and perfect for feeling cruddy me).

So, we are continuing the experiment because it really is working, even though just like with school work, it means the kids are doing different things than they would be if I were insisting they help out.  It actually means they are doing more, and more willingly without all the fighting over who does what when.  So I guess that is a win, even if it also means more heart surgery for me because the “but THEY aren’t doing it” whine comes out at the most inopportune times.

 

(And the recipe for the cake can be found here: http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/2009/06/gluten-free-dairy-free-sugar-free.html.)

Plank Pullin’: Crying into the Dishwater

For the first time in several years (at least–can’t remember the last time honestly) I am joining in a weekly meme: Jessica’s Plank Pullin’. Hop on over and read hers (which I totally identify with, or would if we actually had people randomly stopping by– in our case we still have all elderly neighbors and my kids are the ones going visiting.)

So, if you have been paying attention you know we are doing an experiment this week. In case you don’t have the energy to read through my wall of words here’s a run down:

This week I am fasting from telling the kids to do chores or insisting they do what I ask in general (the fast policy is ask once then let it go–it is not required obedience because I am asking not insisting).  They are 13, 11, and 9.  They know how the house runs.  There have been nightly fights since we instituted the “kids are in charge of the dishes” rule 6 months ago and I have had enough as have they–thus the fast (which may extend to all the time–usually my character fasts do in the end).

 

The problem is, my attitude about it stinks, as does theirs.  I can’t fix theirs but I CAN fix mine, which is where this week’s plank pullin’ comes in.

We have been doing pretty well– I had been making sure I asked for help only when the kids weren’t actively busy with something.  So if I said, “Hey, could someone run down and check the laundry” someone usually would.  But last night my attitude with a healthy dose of hormones reared its ugly head and when you live in a house with pre-/teen girls, THEIR hormones are also raging.

We had spent all day out shopping– the exhausting sort– and I was exhausted, wiped out, and REALLY didn’t want to do dishes.

See, growing up my parents didn’t get a dishwasher until I moved out– why should they when my brother and I made perfectly good dishwashers.  They got it when I moved out because my middle brother was busy with all sorts of after school activities and was never home to DO dishes, my other brother being a baby.  I’m not bitter. So I grew up hating doing dishes even though when my brother  helped it was kind of fun.  Despite how we acted around our parents we really enjoyed each other’s company and made doing dishes fun.  The result of this is I hate doing dishes but don’t mind so much if it gives me a chance to hang out with someone.

When I asked for help last night everyone decided they would rather do something else.  So I sobbed into the soapy water instead of yelling (because if I am on a fast and call it that then I rememberand I refused to yell–though BOY was it tempting.)  This led to a big wet, whiny talk with God about how I hated doing dishes alone and why was I the one who had to pick up all the slack and do all the extra work that needs done and how the kids know my love language is service and not one of them could be bothered to even offer to help and waaaaaaaahhhh.

Now remember, part of this experiment is that I want my kids to get a better attitude about work and not go about bossing each other and to quit looking at work as something to be avoided and foisted off on others.  Here I was whining about how I wanted my kids to come in and naturally offer to help without even being asked and that they wouldn’t even do it if I asked gently.  Meanwhile God often has to kick me in the rear (or shut down my computer) to get me going in the proper direction even though I should know what He wants me to do (I do have a conscience and the Holy Spirit uses it liberally) and even when He straight out asks I tend to balk.  So my love language is service and here I am whining about serving because I want others to serve me instead meanwhile I don’t pay near enough attention to the service that God is asking me to do.  Hmmm.  Big ol’ plank there.

And then, after all my whining and fussing I realized there really weren’t that many dishes after all (a little over a sink full) and suddenly I was done and I remembered that doing dishes isn’t really that bad and I was just really pulling the same stunt as my kids (why do I have to be the one to do it, why can’t someone else.)

A few minutes later, though still disappointed in my kids, my attitude had recovered.  I walked into the office and my boy ran up to me and said, “I know I didn’t help with the dishes but look, I cleaned up your desk for you!”  And he did, my desk looked really nice (and everything was where I usually put it so I could find it– and yes, it did make me feel loved–I have a very silly heart. :))  A few minutes later Rach asked, “Didn’t anyone help you with the dishes?”  I replied that no one had and why would she expect someone else to if she wouldn’t (okay, a bit of attitude lingering but her younger sister is the one who usually steps in and helps and Rach knows it).

Obviously I have some personal heart issues/attitude to address before I attempt to address those in my children.  So I consider it temporarily adjusted– I know I will have more adjusting to do but that is really what a fast is usually about (for me anyway) and fasts tend to bring out the big heart issues God wants to work on right now and this one is a doozy.

 

An Experiment

I have begun an experiment.

Issac reading to me outside.
Issac reading to me outside.

Yesterday something occurred that reminded me a lot of my childhood, and me as a child.  It brought out all the self-blame and helplessness in a situation that was really beyond my control.  The thing is I realized that I had been using the same tones and attitudes with my children that has been aimed at me both yesterday and when I was young.  (Being the oldest SUCKS because you hear “you should have known better” and why didn’t you” and “why didn’t you think that THIS could happen” ALL THE TIME and I realized yesterday that that was happening in our home.)  Now I come from a shouty family–my grandmother got ANGRY and shouted, my mom got pretty mad and shouted, and I only shout when I have hit a certain point, but it gets hit a lot more often than I would like and I want to change that.  Which is where the experiment comes in.

This week, starting last night, I am only going to ask (gently and giving them the option whether to do it or not) once regarding anything that needs done. Shamus put the kids in charge of the dishes last fall when the dishwasher broke and it has been fights EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. and sometimes the dishes still aren’t done the next day which means there is a fight in the morning. No more. I am sick and tired of nagging, cajoling, and having to ask him to tell them to do them because they quit listening to my voice. Basically doing a reboot, partly because I really need to change my own attitude about work if I want them to change theirs, partly because I know I am being my mother way too often and it is hurting my oldest’s heart (the other two follow her example and she is the most deliberate with the not doing what she is told to do.) So I will not tell them to do anything this week– just ask gently and then move along. (Also not telling them about the change.)

So, here is what has happened so far:

Rachel made a knight costume, which quickly changed into a full Minecraft armor plus a creeper costume.

Last night:

  • Asked the kids to do the dishes, no one did (they fought over who should go first) so I went and just did them without a word.
  • Asked, while doing dishes I asked if someone could please check the laundry. They started to fight and I said, “No, I was just asking if someone could, not saying you guys had to.” Essie immediately went and checked but forgot to transfer the laundry. Rach started to berate her and I said it was fine, I was glad to know what needed done down there.
  • A few minutes later asked if someone would go and transfer it, Rach immediately did the job without a word (she seldom works without much nagging.
  • Asked Issac if he wanted to sit and read a book with me and he immediately said yes (sometimes balks) so we read together while the girls played their games.
  • Sat with Rach a bit, asked what she had to do today (she babysits and has things she has to do in order to go). She listed things off and decided (at 10:30pm) that she wanted to get out the school books and practice some things that she would have to help the kids she babysits with on their homework–she did several pages of division, some spelling, practicing her writing while she did (she has beautiful handwriting naturally but gets things backwards due to her severe dyslexia).
  • Essie decided to join her and voluntarily did several pages in a math activity books she found. They had me stay by and check their work (haven’t done this in several years I think.) Both girls were shocked at how much they knew and how many pages they could just skip because they knew how to do everything there.
Our dandelion field.

Today:

 

  • Rach got up, did some more spelling, prepared her food for babysitting, and did everything else she needed to do before she sat down to watch her movie (all without me nagging her).
  • Issac and Esther got up, got dressed, and then helped me gather their dirty laundry.
  • Discovered that Esther PANICS when she has to choose her clothes (which explains why she prefers to spend her day in her pjs.)  So, I put out a weeks worth of outfits with one dress outfit–which made her absolutely thrilled.
  • Any time I have asked someone to do something or help me it has been done immediately and the only fight we have had was between Essie and Issac about who’s turn it was on the computer which was quickly dealt with.

Also noticed–the kids didn’t fight, well, not after the initial my turn, your turn stuff. And because I wasn’t angry already when there were small disputes about balloons I was able to gently remind them that the balloons were private property and each owner had the right to choose how to handle it. So, so far it has been fairly peaceful and Shamus was even surprised at how mcuh work they are actually doing compared to how much when we had to fight it out of them.