Tag: family

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.

Where I am from

Have seen this elsewhere and found it odd and sweet and sad, the results reminding me strangely of Emily Dickinson  and had to try it for myself.  Original is here.  More are here. I am not very good at following the rules as you will see if you read the original so lets call it “inspired by” instead of following the writing prompt exactly.

Where I’m From

I am from bakery flavored kitchens, from Duncan Hines cake mix and “from scratch” apple dumplings “just baked fresh ’cause I know you like them and I saw these apples and knew.”

I am from the glass porched house high on the hill, all brown and brick and brown again with a red, white, and blue swing set out back, wildflowers blooming amidst determined landscaping, solitary contentedness playing amidst the trees and down by the ponds.  From playing in the dirtpile and  petting catfish in the pond, from bullfrogs and spring peepers, fireflies and bats over the water.

I am from yellow, orange, and red hawkweed, bright indian paintbrush, and lavender-blue bluits in the grass where my aunt always mowed them down despite my protests, from  jewelweed, sweet peas, and Queen Annes lace leaning out over the road ways,  pink ladyslippers and Pennsylvania smartweed growing in the borders, from mossy shadows under the oaks, flowering dog woods, prickly chestnuts from our climbing tree, poison ivy in the woods beside the wild berries, and loaded fruit trees scenting the air with rotten fruit.

I am from Nowakowskis and Watts and Stewarts, from cigar smoking grandpaps, with hats on in the house, playing partial games of solitaire and grandmas with Polish arms talking about all the  family members and trying to get you to eat more so you don’t waste away.

I am from the complaining about everything and arguing over nothing.  From love of science and nature and school is important.  From do-it-yourself and make do with what you have or do without.  From a drawer full of breadbags instead of ziplocks and homegrown potatoes and home-canned pickles in the middle of winter.  From summers spent out on the pond in the paddleboat, pulling Barbies along on strings instead of playing with them properly.

From bread crust and meat fat both will put hair on your chest and you’re full of vinegar if you are acting up. From run up to the beer garden and  call your grandpap for dinner well before dinner is actually ready. From bigger is always better and here’s some change, go put it in your piggy bank.

I am from choir practice led by black habited sisters with guitars and big voices and names based on saints, from missing mass is a sin even when you are sick, from First Communion and Hail Mary, full of grace and CCD taught by sisters from the nearby convent.  I am from tradition and  bitterness, from I  know the Bible because I read it through once a long time ago, from church and science  go together like oil and water and I can believe two opposite things at the same time as long as I keep them apart but science wins if I don’t.

I’m from the mountains and valleys of Western PA and two people who met on a boat to America from a little town in Poland and a mixed breed from the hills of West Virginia, kuschiki and handmade chocolates for holidays and kielbasa and potatoes for everyday.

From the homemade pies from the first handpicked fruits of the season, the women bustling about in the kitchen and the men in the other room smoking and chatting about gardens and hunting with the game on so they don’t miss anything. I am from railroad workers and coal miners, from excavators and teachers, from single women working at the drugstore and Schinley after leaving their abusive husbands in a time when that wasn’t done.

I am from the pond and the hill, from playing cards for pennies from the big jar kept for that purpose and huge family reunions where plenty of bootleg is served, from family walks and discussions of times past, from sad family stories discussed over partly remembered photos, from miserable pasts that are best forgotten by those who do remember.

I am from hard workers and gamblers, generosity and mental illness, from severe family loyalty and outrageous gossip. I am from frugality and our job as women is to keep the family together despite adversity.  From telling lies to keep the peace and keep it to yourself if you disagree.  I am from go on living, complaining about the normal things in order  to keep the  real complaints secret.

And I am from time together instead of spending money, from go take a walk when something is on your mind, from do your best no matter how hard, from take lots of pictures even if all the heads are cut off and the ones that aren’t are a blur,  and save absolutely everything because you never know when you might need it.

Randomly random because my head is still busy

  • I gave up and cut my hair.  I have been getting a lot of headaches lately and it hurts to have my heavy, thick hair up and it bugs me to have it down so chop-chop.  I did ask the kids if it would be all right (I kept it long because they loved it) but too much is enough.  And so, my new head:  It is frizzy here because my hair is naturally VERY wavy and I hadn’t used a straight iron (which surprisingly does not straighten it though it does smooth it.)  Yes I cut it myself using lots of time and mirrors and hair clips.   I hate having someone else do it because my hair is tricksie and they always mess it up.   This is my favorite cut, is flattering on most people and looks good with my favorite accessories–hats and hoop  earrings.  No straight on shot because I was having a hard time getting the camera set up.:)
  • Hubby says that now I have to dye it blue or purple so I can look like one of our favorite anime characters, and it is AWFULLY tempting:

  • The girls have been working hard at learning to draw and paint better and have been using my poor sad bunny as a model (no, I do not own an actual model, he is out of my head and the kids are using him as a spring board for their own paintings.  We have bunnies EVERYWHERE.  It is my humble opinion that these bunnies are BREEDING.

    Rachels bunny

  • Issac has been enjoying what snow we have been having (off and on, snow then rain then back again, driving us all insane–“Make up your MIND!”  The girls built giant snowmen down in the field and Issac worked on a speed bump.

  • Rachel has been spending every possible moment either playing chess with her new board or trying to convince someone to play with her.  Here she is with a friend (sporting a new haircut which I had just done a few moments before and which reminded me how much I LOVE this haircut.) They had a great game while their brothers who are the same age were upstairs cleaning up a bit of a mess.
  • The mess?  Oh my.  Do you KNOW how many teeny, tiny Styrofoam balls are in one of those squishy nylon pillows? Especially the squishy purple marshmallow bunny pillow?  I am STILL cleaning up those stupid little balls.  The boys found the balls that had come out of the peep which the girls KEPT instead of throwing away and dumped them in every, single corner of the mess (which the girls were supposed to have cleaned) of a room which is the girls.  You see the mound of laundry?  That was AFTER I took several loads downstairs.  The girls had left PILES of clothes and blankets on the floor which were then covered in very static-y little balls. The 2 7 year old boys had to clean as much as they could but the girls then had to deep clean their room (like they were supposed to).
  • I got a new camera which is wonderful and capable of taking lowlight photos without a flash which is why these photos exist –usually I wouldn’t have enough light to take these.  And it takes MUCH better photos of my art without a lot of lightboxes and fuss–this shot below is right off my drawing table no extra light or anything.
  • Oh, and then there are the elephants.  I am still working on the new website for my art so I posted it over at Elasah.com but I got a new palatte and watercolor journal and jumped in and did this weeks Inspire me Thursday which you can see here:

Happy Holidays or eliminating the kid clutter holidays produce

My kids were all born right around the holidays.  We start in October and don’t stop until the end of January (our anniversary is one week after Rachel’s birthday.)  So we have officially begun the holiday season here in the Young household. With the only grandkids/great-grandkids/nieces/nephew in the family and an excess of loving grandparents (several extras through divorce and remarriage) and lots of doting aunts and uncles our kids would be well spoiled if we didn’t come up with a plan.  (10 gift sources x 3 kids who can’t eat candy x 5 gift giving holidays means 150 gifts coming into the house if each family member only buys 1 gift!  Thats a lot of loot.  Then add in all the stocking stuffers, baskets and the fact that each person likes to buy more than one item per kid and it gets overwhelming for everyone!)

We have tried several things to keep the holidays from being overwhelming for kids (and parents).  In the past we have asked that family members only buy a total of four gifts (something they want, something they need, they something for fun and something to read) which is what I usually get them but that never panned out because everyone STILL bought tons of little stuff for stockings etc.  I did learn to cut back on our own spending on the kids since everyone buys for our kids anyway, so now the kids usually get one or two things from us. We also tried reminding family members that the kids have to get rid of a portion of their toys and stuff before and after Christmas, and they decide which to keep.  That helped a lot since some members of the family liked to buy lots of dollar store toys instead of one nicer one (the kids call them disposable toys because they break right away.:))  It still meant that the kids got a lot stuff that they didn’t necessarily want or need.  We needed a way to communicate what the kids liked, needed, and wanted in a way that everyone would know and be able to use without the kids ending up with exactly the same thing from all grands (like I did when I asked for a Strawberry Shortcake doll as a kid–I had 3 Strawberry Shortcakes and no other dolls).

The older two have, in the past few years, learned to ask for a few specific things that they really want–one from each family member, for instance last year Rachel asked for a Cabbage Patch doll from one grandma, Only Hearts kids from another, and a doll house (to be shared with her sister from the other.) The other thing I did last year is made an Amazon store with the items the kids wanted for those who were online and wanted to get something from the kids’ wishlist.  This also helped me out since I got money back on what others purchased through it.  It helped pay for OUR Christmas presents plus groceries for a few months. 🙂

We have also, in the past, made a printed list of each child’s favorite colors and styles, what they need (clothing and school wise) and what sizes they wore in each thing.  This eliminated a lot of guess work for grandparents and meant the kids got what they liked and would wear instead of a three sizes too big long denim dark blue skirt when they wanted a shorter, acid washed one that fit (no, I am not bitter though I may still be a little bit bitter about the four sizes too big neon pink jelly shoes that matched NOTHING I owned that my grandma bought on clearance instead of the light blue ones that would have fit that I wanted. :))

This year I went one step further.  The kids are getting a bit older (buying gifts for a 9 and soon to be 11 year old is much harder than buying for a 2 year old though the younger still has a more traditional list).  Rachel and Esther have specifically asked all grandparents to not spend money on a whole lot of little stocking stuffers or other things and instead to donate towards something they want specifically (an ASUS Eee PC 900 16G because they want to use them for schooly type things).  We used Wishpot to list that and other things each child as well as some gifts we would like as a family.  Wishpot also allows us to use our paypal account to allow contributions to their Eee Pc’s online instead of just in person (so if, say, my brother who lives out of state decides he wants to help them get them hen he can contribute cash to my paypal to help with getting gifts instead of buying something smaller and shipping it.)  Plus, we have lots of other smaller gifts listed under Issac’s and under Family gifts if they don’t want to contribute to a bigger gift for each girl. (I should also note that this doesn’t just help us as a family buy one larger gift per kid, somethign they want and need, but it also helps our family not spend as much –those stocking stuffers and other things add up, and it eliminates one more stress during the holidays.)

Another big help last year was that I asked those of you who were going to be buying through Amazon.com anyway (and don’t have an affiliates account yourself, if you do click through from your own site, you still get credit) to click through from my page–if you do that it gives me credit–even if you purchase with a gift certificate or some such.  Lots of you did and it really helped us out.  Since we are planning on getting the Eee PC through Amazon.com this year it will help us get the girls each one of their own  (Issac is pretty much bought for–God is good!)

And if you haven’t visited Wishpot.com go and get your own account–it is a great way to share what you and your kids really want and need as well as see what others want and need.

*Yes, I am an Amazon affiliate, you click the Amazon link and within the next 2 weeks buy something I get a little bit back. I am NOT however a Wishpot affiliate, I just am really happy with the service and it has really simplified things for our extended family. And if you are curious, here are our wishlists: Mine, Rachel, Esther, Issac, and the family (hubby has not jumped on board with this. :))  I really wish the rest of the family would get Wishpot lists as well–it is nice to be able to see what everyone wants and buy online from various sites instead of trying to figure each person out.

Unschooling at the pond–again

We ended up spending another week at the pond, then staying over a night at Grandma’s due to car troubles.  We have not slept at home since last Monday. Long story short I ended up doing some more painting because I had more to do and Rach asked to stay at her grandma’s over night.  We didn’t take into account the fact that the cold damp weather would mean that the paint would take longer to dry.  Sigh.

However we had many awesome learning opportunities at the pond–talk about interest led learning–it was an awesome experience!  The kids got to help install a hot water tank, explore the old hot water tank and figure out how it worked and what went wrong, build a pirate ship/submarine out of the hot water tank box, watch movies, read numerous books, play card games, play on the paddle boat, see a doe my mom got hunting–her first with her bow which we walked up to see in the dark so they could se eit before it went to the butcher the next morning, star gaze–looking for known constellations and making up our own, as well as…

Learn to golf,

After playing many games of golf on the Wii Essie decided she wanted to take it up for real, with a too big golf club and wearing many layers to fend off the cold.
After playing many games of golf on the Wii Essie decided she wanted to take it up for real, with a too big golf club and wearing many layers to fend off the cold.

Enjoy watching birds, chipmunks, turkeys, and squirrels and all God’s creation,

We got to do all sorts of nature walks watching the leaves change and the animals prepare for winter.
We got to do all sorts of nature walks watching the leaves change and the animals prepare for winter.

Watch movies,

We watched numerous movies (especially since for several days we had very cold rain.)
We watched numerous movies (especially since for several days we had very cold rain.)

Daydream

Issac watching the ducks on the pond--several Mallards were hanging out as well as 9 turkeys, three grey squirrels, one red squirrel, several chip munks, and lots of birds.
Issac watching the ducks on the pond--several Mallards were hanging out as well as 9 turkeys, three grey squirrels, one red squirrel, several chip munks, and lots of birds.
Issac cuddled up watching a movie.
Issac cuddled up watching a movie.

Card games,

I brought along this silly sentance flash card game and all three kids, with little prompting from me, spent hours making silly sentences and telling stories with these cards.  The cards have sentence structure on them so the older two were reviewing noun, adjectives, and verbs, added in their own hand written words to make the sentences more interesting, and took pictures of all their creations, while Issac learned about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and practiced reading the sentences he made.
I brought along this silly sentence flash card game and all three kids, with little prompting from me, spent hours making silly sentences and telling stories with these cards. The cards have sentence structure on them so the older two were reviewing noun, adjectives, and verbs, added in their own hand written words to make the sentences more interesting, and took pictures of all their creations, while Issac learned about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and practiced reading the sentences he made.

Ecosystems and building,

The girls discovered a small section of land by the pond full of crickets.  We discussed ecosystems and then the kids decided they wanted to build houses for the crickets out of sticks (Issac made slides and a clothes rack instead).
The girls discovered a small section of land by the pond full of crickets. We discussed ecosystems and then the kids decided they wanted to build houses for the crickets out of sticks (Issac made slides and a clothes rack instead).

Developing family relationships,

Issac playing with Uncle James who is off school due to a teacher's strike.
Issac playing with Uncle James who is off school due to a teacher's strike.

Building lean-to’s/survival training

The kids spent 2 day sbuilding lean-tos in the woods with Uncle James.  They also learned about being in the woods during hunting season (and wearing bright colors so people don't think you are a deer or turkey. :))
The kids spent 2 days building lean-tos in the woods with Uncle James. They also learned about being in the woods during hunting season (and wearing bright colors so people don't think you are a deer or turkey.)

Family time

Did I mention it rained several days and we got to spend lots of time cuddled on the couch watching movies together?
Did I mention it rained several days and we got to spend lots of time cuddled on the couch watching movies together? Not to mention reading aloud together.

I also got a few small paintings nearly finished and the girls got to practice being left alone for short periods of time (Rach longs to be able to stay home alone and letting them practice in a cottage surrounded by family on 13 acres of woods is much safer than at home where we live near a major high way.)  And just when we thought we were going to stay home we visited grandma and the car acted up meanign we stayed over night there  (the lights were dimming too much to drive home at night– known alternator issues okay as long as we drive during the day.)  It has been a week full of God’s blessings and interventions once again, and the learning has been amazing to behold.

Staying at the cottage

Not sure what type of flowers these are (the kids made off with my flied guide) but they are growing near some Jack-o-lantern toad stools near the cottage.  The kids were fascinated with these ethereal beauties that seemed out of place in the fall landscape.
Not sure what type of flowers these are (the kids made off with my flied guide) but they are growing near some Jack-o-lantern toad stools near the cottage. The kids were fascinated with these ethereal beauties that seemed out of place in the fall landscape.
After staying at multiple family members houses while we waited for the paint fumes to go, Rachel was thrilled to be hanging out with me and her sister at my dad's cottage (the house I lived in till I was 4) while her dad and brother slept at our hosue, with the windows open to 50 degree weather xcept for the office where they both slept with the heater on.
After staying at multiple family members houses while we waited for the paint fumes to go, Rachel was thrilled to be hanging out with me and her sister at my dad's cottage (the house I lived in till I was 4 and they built the bigger house on the hill). Shamus and Issac stayed at the house with the windows open to 50 degree, rainy weather, sleeping in the office with the heater.
Esther happily stayed with us at the cottage, camping out with no hot water and no heat but hanging with the girls watching movies on the laptop.
Esther happily stayed with us at the cottage, camping out with no hot water and no heat but hanging with the girls watching movies on the laptop and taking walks around the pond before night.
The cottage in the background of plant at the pond.  There, in blur, it is, with our little Mitsubishi full of all the needed things beside.
The cottage in the background of plant at the pond. There, in blur, it is, with our little Mitsubishi full of all the needed things beside.
Um, yeah, the kids took several (mostly blurry) pictures of me bundled against the cold air.  I think I look remarkably like my mom here, which is very creepy.
Um, yeah, the kids took several (mostly blurry) pictures of me bundled (in at least four layers) against the cold air. I think I look remarkably like my mom here, which is very creepy.
View from the front picture window of the cottage.
View from the front picture window of the cottage (yes, that is a reflection of the light in the background.)
Watching squirrels is a favorite past time at the cottage--in fact, there is family that hangs out and steals the chestnbuts the kids set out for them.  This is one of the younger ones, high in a tree, which I watched for some time from the deck early one morning.
Watching squirrels is a favorite past time at the cottage--in fact, there is family that hangs out and steals the chestnuts the kids set out for them. This is one of the younger ones, high in a tree, which I watched for some time from the deck early one morning while freezing and drinking my coffee.
The girls took their footy pajamas to stave off the cold.
The girls took their footy pajamas to stave off the cold.(Yes, Essie is sneaking up on her sister.)
And this followed immediately.  I am so grateful that we had this place to go to (my dad just finished refinishing it and just has to get a new hot water tank for it to be done.)  Didn't he and my brother do a beautiful job?  It was good to be there with thegirls but it is also good to be home.
And this followed immediately. I am so grateful that we had this place to go to (my dad just finished refinishing it and just has to get a new hot water tank for it to be done.) Didn't my dad and brother do a beautiful job with the kitchen? It was a great place to stay with the girls but I must say it is good to be home.

Me, Myself, and I

I don’t have a recent photo (I think the last photo I have is from exactly a year ago–my brother in laws wedding which Issac took looking up my nose) since I am ALWAYS behind the camera but I do have this which Rachel took when I gave her my digital camera to play with while waiting for Grandma after dinner last week.  This is her first attempt at using the camera as a video camera and she wanted to capture everything, including her brother sister making shadow puppets in the light, and for some reason, me cleaning up the table a bit before leaving.  Don’t turn the sound up, it is rather random though in the background my grandmother is telling the pizza worker people that the kids always point out that their ceiling looks exactly like a giant candy bar–and it does.

I am posting this in response to Randi’s request that everyone post pictures of themselves.  Not that she reads my blog but several others do and I read hers and occasionally even comment, though not nearly often enough.

And that is QUITE enough posts for today thank you very much–three is definitely my limit.

A Day in the Life of this Christian Unschooling Family

This morning I decided today was a good day to do a post like this.  Then things got crazy so I decided to write as I go–which would be great if it weren’t already 3:45pm.  I have been taking pictures as the day goes, well until 1:00 but you will see.  Is this a normal day?  We don’t have a “normal” day, is it typical?  Yes, in that everyday the kids, Shamus, and I all have projects we are doing and interruptions that take on a life of their own.  Word of warning, it was a long day so it follows after the jump.Read More

My domestic day

So I spent all day baking instead of painting I like I planned.  It was nice and cool and I needed to make bread, and if I am going to make bread and have the oven on anyway then I may as well go ahead and bake as much other as I can think of.  The kids and hubby got 10 dozen cookies, a cake, bread, and 2 loaves of quick bread, not to mention a crock pot of beans and some confetti rice* for dinner out of it so they are happy.

I got a self portrait doodle out of it so I am happy.  (As I mentioned to Jonatha–hubby suggested that I looked like a 1950’s housewife in one of those awful ads: “Use our wonderful baby soap, with full lye” or Eat our wonderful health food, now with more Lard.”–I think I look more like a gypsy or some weird bohemian chick, especially since my hair is done in multiple braids, not cornrows but close enough.)

In the meantime my large house painting is laid out and ready for me to start on, I have a small but full page  doodle in the works, the bills are paid, made plans with mom to drive down to the Trader Joes 45 min away on Wednesday, the laundry is sorted, the kids folded and put away the 4 baskets of laundry that have been  soaking up the stink in the basement, and Issac and I fixed the crack in the tub so now we can take showers again (the lack of a non-leaky tub is the very reason why my hair has spent the last week up in mini braids, well that an how easy to care for and cool they are,) AND I managed to stay home meaning I didn’t use gas.  It has been a productive day.

*We call it confetti rice though I believe it is different than what most people think of when you say confetti rice.  I am all about quick easy meals–cereal and fruit is perfectly acceptable in our household.  My confetti rice is quick and easy and everyone LOVES it, and and I love it because it is cheap:

1 can tuna with olive oil (you can use the broth version, I don’t but you can.  Plus, if you don’t do tuna you can leave it out or use real honest to goodness meat, or if you don’t buy meat because it is too expensive but want some protein in their you can throw in some TVP which I do occasionally though hubby won’t eat it if I do.):))

2 cups leftover rice (in this case it was aborio, but whatever you have)

2 cups mixed soup veggies, frozen (you can use whatever frozen or canned veggies you all like, my kids like the little soup ones and I HATE canned veggies unless they are green beans)

garlic and onion powder and salt to taste (I like lots of onion and garlic powder and a little bit of salt)

Fry all of it together until warm.  Do not, I repeat, do not cook this until the veggies all turn brown.  Ick.  The kids won’t eat it, and that is just gross.  No, you have to just get it warmed up so everything is bright and colorful–kids LIKE colorful food whiich is goo dbecause it is MUCH healthier when the veggies have their color.

Give the picky eater a small sample and insist she come to the table and eat the sample up before going back to her game.  Picky eater will finally taste it then ask for seconds.  Eat it up while still hot.  The end.