Tag: kids

Unschooling in the House

A random list of unschooly things going on in our household over the last few weeks (partially pulled from my twitter/facebook accounts) and including the learning Shamus and I are doing since it all goes together that way.

 

Issac is:

  • Spending large quantities of time playing Terraria and Roblox with friends online.  I love that my shy, introverted boy has found friends his age that are interested in the same thing and has found a way of playing that does not overtax his introverted-ness.  When he needs quiet he walks away from the computer (often leaving Skype open… need to work on that).  He has always talked through whatever he is doing and being able to talk to someone actually involved in what he is doing is a blessing.  He is still shy in person to some extent but this has REALLY helped him come around a bend.  He is no longer afraid of playing on the unschool kids Minecraft server (he was afraid people would talk to him and he would have to respond– he prefers building in Minecraft on his own projects.)
  • Issac’s reading and writing skills have grown significantly.  He is still nervous of typing/writing unless he can copy something but he just had me add youtube videos to his growing list of favorite movies to watch (found 3-2-1 Contact and Square One on youtube and he has been loving them.)  He is now confident that he can type in things he has written down, and confident that he can read what I write for him.  In fact, yesterday he pointed out that he is now putting closed captioning on on all the videos on Netflix that has it because he is enjoying reading what they are saying.  He also had me make a food chart/menu plan for him so he is more confident getting his own foods. It is not a legalistic chart, just suggestions so he doesn’t have to make decisions when hungry.  I love that he is confident enough in his reading skills now that he ASKED me to make him a food chart and it didn’t even occur to him to worry about being able to read it.
  • He continues in his fascination with all things science and math though I recently heard him declare that he was “no good at math” which is funny because this is the kid that uses math regularly without thought and has always thought of it as a game.  I think it was him repeating what he had heard both from his sisters (who are the same way– good at it but imitating what they hear and know is expected) and what he has heard on iCarly and on Ned’s Declassified.
  • Recently he has taken to wanting to watch kung fu movies with me (Jackie Chan and Jet Li with the occasional Bruce Li thrown in) which is another testament to his reading since they are mostly the older ones that have subtitles.  He also watches my Korean dramas with me (especially the ones with action) and no longer complains of subtitles there.
  • Doing tons of experiments with bubbles and various bubble solutions– trying to figure out how water tension works and why.
  • He is teaching me how to play Spore Hero– he takes great pleasure in this.
  • He is showing interest in maybe, possibly joining us in Just Dance 2 (took him a year to try Dance Dance Revolution) now that we have Kung Fu Fighting and Mambo No. 5.  He also loves the song Rockafella Skank but thinks the dance is too embarrassing.

Esther is:

Suddenly looking freakily like Uma Thurman.
  • Recording Minecraft lets play videos with friends that she has been posting on Youtube.
  • Designing a dragon from texture pack up in Minecraft so she could hav ea cool desktop background.
  • Spending lots of time learning about the ins and outs of the computer so she can personalize her user account on the shared computer.  This is carrying over into interest in designing websites.  She now wants me to install a wordpress website for her so she can learn to personalize it.
  • Reading, reading, reading.  She was going kind of nuts because she ran out of books– so we downloaded a whole slew of free ones from Amazon plus she borrowed the Eragon series from my brother.
  • Spending a lot of time drawing and painting– often beside me when I am working.  She is growing by leaps and bounds and is very comfortable in her artistic skin.  In fact I just shared this on Facebook:
    • Just saw Essie on chat say confidently “I am an artist.”   And she is. She spends a lot of her time not spent reading and writing and on the computer drawing and painting. She sits by me when I work, asks questions, and experiments.
    • The thing is she is just like I was EXCEPT she has the confidence to call herself an artist and behave accordingly. It took me YEARS to get that confidence (ps all the way, with all free time spent reteaching what supposed to learn in school but basically unschooled all summer). I internalized all the criticism I received in school and at home and despite drawing and painting from the time I was Essie’s age I didn’t “call” myself an artist until I was in my 30’s.
    • If that confidence and comfort with self (and love of the Lord) is all she takes away from our unschooling lifestyle, then it is WELL worth it.
  • Writing a Minecraft fan fiction novel  She read it aloud what she (with a friend who was spell checking it and giving ideas) had written and it was kind of shocking– it sounded like a real novel. Shamus, who is working on his 3rd novel went on and on about how her pacing was perfect, how she had a good solid voice, etc. Not surprising since she reads constantly but it was a huge jump forward from the last story she wrote (about a year ago.)
  • Using tutorials to teach herself Blender (3-d object creator/animator.) This is especially amazing because my husband and I both used Truspace to design avatars for a game years ago and Blender was too much learning curve.

 

Rachel is:

Essie and Rach voluneered to pull up old tiles and replace them-- because it "looked fun" and apparently it was.
  • Using youtube as a piano instructor for harder songs than learning at class.  Currently learning a relatively simple (compared to the full version) “Moonlight Sonata”.
  • Researching a doll found at the thrift shop in order to sell it on Ebay.  Finding out prices, finding out how much it might be worth, learning to photograph it for ebay, learning how to sell on ebay.
  • Writing a parody of a song for a youtube video.  Practicing singing the song, learning how to record it, as well as learning video editing.
  • Weekly babysitting– voluntary  1 day plus in exchange for piano lessons the other– the Friday one means she gets up, packs a lunch, and gets herself out the door on her own because lately I have been sleeping way later.
  • Taking lots of photos and learning how to take better photos.  She is considering using the money she has been saving to buy a decent camera.
  • Spending time with online friends; chatting, playing Words with Friends, and Tripletown.
  • Doing a lot more around the house on her own.  She is currently sleeping afternoon through evening so  I will wake up to find various jobs around the house done.  Which is really pretty awesome.

 

Shamus is:

  • Playing a game I am not allowed to talk about because it is still in Alpha and he had to sign an NDA, but I can say he loves it.
  • Working on his next book (which I get to read and LOVE)– a completely different setting from this one.
  • Writing stuff for the Escapist.
  • Recording Spoiler Warning.
  • Redesigning a website.

Me?

Oh yeah, I chopped my hair off-- about 10 inches.
  • I am working on illustrations for Shamus’ book.  (You can see them on my Facebook page if interested: https://www.facebook.com/ElasahArt)
  • Editing the final revision of Shamus ‘ book.
  • Formatting Shamus’ book.
  • Attempting to keep the house in order for showings and fix up what we are able to fix.
  • Feeling like I need to share things more online…so I am trying to do that.
  • Helping Esther with some art questions she has.
  • Helping Rachel figure out how best to record.
  • Helping Issac with computer questions.
  • Reading James A Owen’s Imaginarium Geographica series which is prompting all kinds of thoughts about classical writers.
  • Reading a 1920’s girl detective story I found for free for the Kindle.  Very fun.  Prompting much thought about the changes in language and slang from then to now.

I CU

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

“This week we want to…”…hmm, will have to ask the kids. We did what they really wanted (went to Moraine State Park, where they made friends with a family that is eerily similar to our own in all sorts of awesome ways. Also took Rach to the outlets and to Moraine yesterday– which she announced was the best day ever, though I guess today almost trumped it.

“The kids are…” happy and sunburnt. VERY sunburnt (though I am the worst)– apparently staying 3 hours past when we were going to leave might not have been such a great idea. 🙂 But it was worth it, see above.

“I am learning….” that I forgot how much sunburn hurts? And that maybe God is filling in my lack of leadership ability, maybe. I don’t WANNA lead. That I don’t have nearly enough time to write all the stuff I want to write about (SO much that needs written down), take care of the house, visit my grandma, AND do all the cool stuff I want to do with the kids. So, I really need to be praying for wisdom at any given moment so I am doing all things in His time. And I am learning that I forgot to take pictures today. I think I took like, 3. Sigh. And once again I am learning that YES God is taking care of us. I had to stop and get groceries on the way home and was really upset at how much they cost because we have bills to pay and car inspection. Got home and found almost that exact amount had been donated to us via Shamus’ blog. So whoever you are, THANK YOU!

“I am struggling with…” sunburn? Ow?

“This week is the first time….” I have taken the kids to Moraine alone. Don’t know why I never have, but I just didn’t. Didn’t occur to me how close it was.

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.

 

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.

 

Unschooling Life: A trip to the museum

On Sunday we celebrated Purim though not in the traditional way. There are no Messianic Jewish groups nearby and we don’t actually know anyone local who is Messianic in their thinking. So, when I heard about the free day at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum and remembered how the kids had been begging to go, I thought it was the perfect way to celebrate God’s quiet intervention in our lives. It worked out beautifully because I actually had gas in the van, we had visited my grandmother the previous evening (we usually visit on Sundays), and everything just fell into place.

We do have a membership for the Science Center and Art and Natural History Museum but it doesn’t include the Children’s Museum (despite including all the other big museums in Pittsburgh.) This is really funny because this museum is tiny and more expensive to join than any of the others– it only gives about 3 hours of entertainment versus the others where we can spend the whole day. It is, however, included if you come into Pittsburgh and have a science center membership so make sure to hit it if you do.

I was surprised at the lack of crowd (though it was a beautiful day and the zoo had a free for under 13 day as well– I suspect the zoo was a lot more crowded.) I found it interesting that the vast majority of children there were under 6. There were a few older kids but they mostly hung back and were there with littles. It was also interesting to watch the little s immediately become interested in whatever my bigger kids were doing and that my kids immediately began exploring everything, applying the knowledge they accumulated from my dad, general discussion, books (they love the Dangerous Book for Boys as well as pretty much any experiment book), and tv (mostly Myth Busters, Dirty Jobs, and Rough Science).
Heading to the entrance

I love this shot of the kids. Esther has been waiting a whole year to go back and has been excitedly asking when the next free day was so she ran ahead. Meanwhile Rach (wearing a Hello Kitty Barbarian hoodie) decided to hang back and spend some time with her little brother.

Falling Letters
And this is what Essie had been waiting for, above all the other things there. She spent a good half hour catching letters, which made for some very fun photos (yes, that is me with the camera).

Magnets
Rachel and Issac exploring magnets in the Creativity Lab.

Magnetic sculpture

Rachel’s magnet sculpture ended up being posted at the museum’s Creativity Lab Blog here. (It is the second photo down.)

Electromagnets
Issac, who adores his Snap Circuit sets and spends quite a bit of time playing with electricity loved attempting to make this electro magnet work.
Wind

While Issac and Rachel explored magnets in the garage Esther played with sound and wind.

slide
After half an hour or so exploring magnets Issac and Rach climbed the net, tossed some parachutes and then played on the giant slide a bit.

building
The building area was what Rachel had waited a whole year to use. She loves to invent and build and couldn’t wait to start on the house sshe had designed in her head based on her experience last year. When she started this area was empty.
building
Within minutes she had help.
building
Lots of help.
wind
When they were finally tired of that room we went next door to experiment with wind.
ant hill
We then had to head to the next favorite– the human ant hill, where Rachel was immediately overrun with littles again.
Issac found fish
In Mister Roger’s Neighborhood we found the fish tank.
Trolley
The trolley
castle
And the Neighborhood of Makebelieve.
play
Tree
castlenoisy stairs
We then headed up the very noisy stairs (they sigh, and ow, and make other noises as you walk up them.)
Young Children Only
In the nursery area (where we had to explore because there were BABIES!) we found this little teeter totter with the massage “Young Children Only” to which Rach replied, “That means we can use it forever,” and then insisted on a photo with it.

water
We headed upstairs to the water area, where the kids quickly went from this to this:
getting soaked and making friends
Where they made friends with the only other older kids willing to play and got thoroughly soaked.
getting soaked and making friends
The making friends was the best part– I loved watching them quickly find like minded kids to play with without being shy (unlike myself and their dad at their ages.)
drying off
Sure it meant plenty of this and this:
drying off
But it also meant they had someone to hang out with the rest of our visit which made my extroverted oldest very, very happy.
clock pendullum
For those who went to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum as a child, the pendulum clock is still there and Issac quickly found it and had to explore it.
clock

paper making

Meanwhile his sisters were having fun in the art room with their new friend, making paper

painting
painting, and print making.
attic
Issac wanted nothing to do with the art room (which he feels he can do readily enough at home while he really wanted to go to the Attic or “the sideways room” as he calls it.
build
And Rach went back to build in the Garage with her friend.
Esther, on the other hand, went into full performance mode which meant I got tons of incredible photos of her playing with the slow motion camera.
Many Esthers
light
Where she and her new friend spent a lot of time twisting, twirling
light
and doing the robot dance.
sound
In the attic are all sorts of cool illusions, from optical to sound, to shadow, and gravity. Here the kids play with sound.

slide

Mr. Roger's front porch
Finally they posed for some photos on Mr. Roger’s front porch swing.
swing
Then on the actual front porch swing (which is HUGE).
silly
silly
gategate
Then because it was a beautiful day they posed for some more rather silly photos on the way to the car.

 

 

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Click here to see the rest of the photos.

Where We Are: Mid January

We are relying on God heavily. We have no idea what He is up to though He is providing at each turn in the road, usually at the 11th hour. Also He is leading us to live off the gifts He gave us instead of going out and looking for “valuable” work which is VERY scary since painting and writing generally do not make much money. We aren’t in this life to make money and the Lord has laid it on our hearts to do what we are most passionate about, what He has given us a passion for, and right now He is providing through those things, albeit not much and only just as we MUST have the money.

We have heard from the bank and since the check is now 8 months late they are not willing to work with us (how can you work with someone if they don’t have any money in their account?) Seems pretty reasonable to me. What does not seem reasonable is that Shamus has not gotten paid for the 8 months of work he has done. He is not willing to cut ties at the moment because he is working on a book and there is a very good chance that having a friendly relationship with the non-paying company that shall remain unmentioned will be beneficial when he finishes the book and puts it out there.

We are praying that the money withheld will come a the 11th hour since obviously this means we will have to move come the foreclosure.

I have finished up all but the cover art for the card game, the designer is shopping for printers and once they find the right situation will do a 100 game trial run. This means that pretty soon I will have a card game with my art on it for you to be buying/reviewing/promoting on your own site because you love me and want to help us (pretty please?)

Also I have been being very productive art wise and that is producing a little bit of income, which has been an amazing blessing. In fact I posted a new painting to Etsy both yesterday and the day before. Also, if you have a commission for me now is the time to order–other than the box art and illustrations for Shamus’ book, I have 1 commission I am working on that isn’t due till November of next year (though I plan to finish earlier).

And just because people keep asking Shamus how they can help I put together this grocery list on Amazon of things that we use regularly (many of which we need due to health issues) that I will share here so it is out there. Our grocery/supplement wish list on Amazon. I am not asking, I am just putting it out there. Much of this list is why I am not worried about no longer having health insurance. And if you feel led to get us something, thank you.

One of the awesome things is that because the kids are so involved they know about our finances, they know when god has provided, in fact they have been praying for God to provide. So they are growing in faith in amazing ways. In fact, just this morning Rach and I had a discussion about how god has been providing and she pointed out that we shouldn’t worry about late fees since if God is providing the money then He will provde for that too–it’s not like He would leave that out. 🙂 We also discussed the idea of moving to a smaller place and how they will probably have to share a room (and how to manage that and what to get rid of.)All three have had a great attitude about it all and have been very excited to see what God is doing.

Enough about money and where we are financially.

The kids have been doing a ton of cool educational stuff lately. A ton!

Rachel has been inventing. Really, grownup type inventing. My little brother is helping her figure out what will and will not work, brainstorm, and design according to the way his one design teacher (who has 20 patents) explained had to be done if you want to get a patent (not that we are considering pursuing that but still– excellent information.) She is rally excited about this idea and is really working to find a way to make her idea doable.

Rach has also been practicing piano (on our 64 key keyboard) a ton, and babysitting in return for lessons (about 1x a month) which is awesome. After she saves up to replace her Eee PC screen (which got broken), she is saving up to buy a full size, pressure sensitive keyboard so she can really play (for now she needs to go with my mother-in-law when she goes to her church so she can practice on their piano.) I know we could probably et one for free via Craig’s List but we figure we will be moving and don’t want to be stuck with a piano we can’t move (not to mention having to get it tuned.) We found a good keyboard that would suit her needs but it is $200 so she needs to start saving.

All three kids have taken on Animal Crossing again. Rachel has been working hard to pay off all her loans in the game, and work to buy all the furniture sets she wants for each room. She sat down with the strategy guide yesterday and charted out all the furniture she wants, which room it would go in, and how much each thing would cost. She then started working to buy each item– she has already bought 2 of the most expensive items in the game (but not until she paid off all her loans.) If the work ethic she is developing in game adapts to real life then she will be very wise with her money (it already has to some extent– the only reason she doesn’t have a “real” job is that state law requires you to be older. She can’t wait till more people start hiring her to babysit and is looking at taking a babysitting class in order to get more jobs.)

Esther has been reading a ton (per usual) but lately has taken on renewing our Animal Crossing town. We have had the game for several years and play it a lot, which means that we have worn down most of the grass. If you go login over and over for years worth of logins, changing the date forward each time, it will grow the grass all back. So that is what she has been doing. And every 4 days of the logging in Rachel goes in and picks all the fruit and sells it in order to make bells. Esther is doing it so she can get the grass back, then pick all the weeds, plant flowers everywhere, which will enable her to get the golden watering can, so she can then breed roses and finally, after much breeding, get a golden rose. So she is persisting and working towards this hard to attain goal– for which I am proud of her.

Both girls have been working on drawings for a friend who is paying them for his website. They are so excited to have a source of income. They are looking forward to Rachel turning 13(in 5 days) so she can have a paypal and Etsy account. She already has been lining up things to sell, taking photos, and figuring out cost and shipping so she is ready when her birthday comes. This is the perfect situation for my child who longs to be in business. At this point we know she will be selling used Altoid tins as craft supplies for about $.50 each which is the going price on Etsy. She also has lots of other types of tins that she is selling plus ACEO’s and stuffies that she makes. Esther will probably be selling drawings/paintings and possibly friendship bracelets, and Issac will likely be selling rice packs (hot packs), which he loves to make (he made everyone one for Christmas).

Esther and Issac have also been playing a lot of Age of Empires II and now Rise of Nations. This has led to many conversations about strategy and history. Especially Issac who LOVES strategy games and is getting pretty good (he complained several times that he won before he even got to fight. :)) This has also really helped his reading skills since you have to read to play.

Issac has also been determinedly building the K’Nex roller coaster that his aunt’s boyfriend gave him. In the end it will be 3 feet tall and 6 feet long and work like a real roller coaster. So far it is 4 feet long and 3 feet tall so he has some work to do.

Issac is working hard to save up for a good computer. (Esther is too but has been spending more of her money elsewhere– like buying her siblings gifts.) Esther wants it so she can play WoW on it since our old laptop on which she plays has issues with the usb ports and not only is WoW slow on that computer but it is pretty hard to play without a mouse. Issac is saving for it because he wants to be able to play a lot of the games Shamus plays on his own computer (so he can play even when Shamus is awake.) Last time I checked he had saved up over $70 towards the computer. Of course it is going to take him sometime since he doesn’t have any income except holidays and birthdays and his birthday was before Christmas.

So that is where we are. No pictures because it is dark in the house (lots and lots of blankets over the windows to keep our uninsulated house warmer) and my camera doesn’t do dark very well. Once the pond freezes over you will be inundated with pictures of ice skating. In the meantime you can head over to Elasah.com to look and my new paintings if you want pictures.

On the road again: Part 1

This summer, due to all sorts of graduations and other activities that were planned for us, we didn’t get to go on our usual trip until the beginning of August.  Now let me just say that when you live in Western PA you forget just how HOT other parts of PA and below get.  And since we were planning on stopping by some other friends’ places and are back on the Candida diet (which by the way is making a huge difference in all of us–not a single RA flare-up for me this whole trip despite the temps and humidity and no one got sick!  YAH us!) we brought our own food.  Note to self: Make sure you keep lots of ice in that thing– 70-80 degrees temps is very different from 90-100.  And since the one friend, whom we often visit, is very near multiple Whole Foods and Trader Joes we stocked up as well–so most of our money spent was on FOOD.

Some highlights of our trip, educational and otherwise:Read More

I’m that Mom

Joining in on an awesome, impromptu blog carnival over here.

(I am deliberately not reading everyone else’s until I have finished writing mine, except for the 2 I saw that made me realize that this is a cool thing that I actually want to join in on because I suspect a lot of us overlap and I want to share who I am without worrying about that it may be a “YEAH, ME TOO.”)

I am that mom who, when the kids ask if we can please go visit our friends 5 hours away tomorrow, says yes, starts packing, and goes.
Rachel and Kayla

I am that mom who upon finding out the the oldest’s best friend (who lives 2 days away) might be able to come stay for a week says YES.

I am that mom who on 4th of July goes fireworks chasing with the kids, driving all over tarnation looking at everyone’s awesome displays,  instead of taking them to sit in a huge crowd and watching one display.

Fireworks

I am that mom who would rather take the kids to the pond to swim or sit and watch hours upon hours of anime, Dr. Who, favorite movies, or As Time Goes By with the crazy, wonderful kids than worry about what the neighbors think of her children’s nearly dead flower/veggie garden and too tall grass.
I am that mom who when the kids decide to build a tent/tree house/whatever in the back yard says nothing or helps them find the needed materials, knowing that again the neighbors will wonder about the people next door ruining the view from their perfect yards.

I am that mom who runs outside with the kids in the pouring rain to look for rainbows.
rainbow


I am that mom who, when the kids find their long lost roller blades and ask if they can go somewhere to roller blade, suggests they roller blade in the house on our fake hard wood floors and allow them to continue to wear them for everything for the next week.


I am that mom who lets her kids turn her entire kitchen into a restaurant for days at a time and play with their food.
Larry the Cucumber

I am that mom who, when her son asks to take all the blankets from all over the house and use them to jump on, says yes.

I am that mom who takes a camera wherever her kids go and takes pictures of all the awesome things they do.


Super straw

I am that mom who, when her kids want to mow the grass says yes and then says nothing about the stripes of extra tall grass left behind and the odd, rather like a maze, style of cutting grass her oldest prefers.

I am that mom who, when a kid says “come see this cool thing” stops what she is doing to go see (and it always IS really cool!)

green

I am that mom who realizes that her middle child loves the stage and when she asks signs her up and takes her to a performing arts camp the very next week.

I am that mom who still loses her cool, who still gets frustrated when the kids have totally trashed the place (not a problem) and then don’t clean it up (a problem), who has bad days and does not cope so well when the kids are fighting, again.
Issac room

I am that mom who still has a long way to go but loves where her kids are exactly where they are regardless of the stage they are in, loves being with them, and thinks they are totally awesome and fun.
Alameda Park 2010
Yes, this is an extended version, I got started and kept going (which anyone who knows me in person knows this is VERY typical.)

Stuff.

I believe all the craziness might possibly be over for the time being.  I can finally slow down and relax.

My brother’s graduation party and the visit with my other brother and his wife are over.  It went well though it was hot, hot, hot outside.  We are talking absolutely melting.

Esther’s performing arts camp is over.  She loved it, did well with the final performance (which I will share if I can figure out how to deal with the movie transfer).  We have found that it was “fun” for her but definitely not a passion.  She loved every minute, wants to do it again, but didn’t spend all her time practicing, memorizing lines, etc.  Getting her to tell us about what she liked and didn’t like is like pulling teeth.  It isn’t that she doesn’t want to talk about it, she has just already moved on to the next thing (mostly relaxing and reading lots of books now that the chaos is over.)  When asked if she wants to be in the the next musical she said absolutely yes, knowing all the work it takes. So, we will see where this takes us.

Rachel’s piano lessons are going well.  She loves it and we found out that the new best friend Essie made at camp has a mother who teaches piano and has openings for the fall.  So, when Des goes back to school Rach will start taking “real” lessons (as in cost an exorbitant amount of money for a half hour lesson.)  Oh and Rach has now indicated that she wants to be called Ray.  Si in the future when I say Ray I mean our eldest.  If only I could remember to call her that.

So now, as we recover from all the busy-ness, I am spending lots of time reading (mostly James’ graduation presents that I have yet to give him because I intend to read them all first since we share books anyway.)  I want to review all of them, so far they are awesome.  In the meantime the kids and I are compiling a list of homeschooler/unschooler friendly books over at the Facebook Christian Unschooler page.  Eventually we will put on the CU site but this is good for now.

I have had tons of posts floating around my head but no time to write and even now my brain has lost all the posts in just trying to get a little bit organized.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  We are getting to that place where we are looking forward to school starting so we can go to all the cool places we like and not deal with crowds.

I am also working on my big art project that we want to publish in the fall.  Most of the work is currently in my head, because that is how I work.

We are also purging the house of stuff everyone has outgrown.  I have a HUGE bushel of shoes for the thrift shop–the kids grew out of all the shoes I got them last month.  Sigh.  I have a brand new, worn once, pair of size 1.5 black boys high top shoes that I really hope bless some kid because my boy suddenly wears a 2.5/3.

The kids and I are also preparing for a trip east and then south to visit friends in Eastern PA and then Virginia.  If you live in Eastern PA or Virginia and want a visit let me know and we can see if we can hook up.

The Fireworks Chasers

So yesterday the kids heard firecrackers in the neighborhood and went outside to see if they could find them. A few minutes later I joined them.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

After a few minutes of attempting to watch them through the trees we decided to take a walk and see what we could see.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

And a few minutes after that, we were on the way to the car to see if we could find even better fireworks.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

*This is rural Western PA here. Lots of hills, mountains, trees, and LOTS of fireworks, even though they are illegal.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

Within 5 minutes we had tracked down a huge party with professional fireworks and a farmtrack where we could park to watch them.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

The kids had a great time and I decided that it isn’t that I don’t like fireworks, its that I hate sitting in a hot parking lot waiting for an hour (so you get a decent spot to watch) to watch an hours worth of fireworks and afterwards sit for an hour and a half in a hot car, in a huge line of cars, with hungry, needing to use the restroom kids in the back trying to LEAVE said parking lot.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

And so today, on the fourth of July, we went fireworks chasing again.

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

This time a friend gave us a heads up and we headed towards the area she suggested. We found several great spots, especially a huge display of professionally done fireworks that was closer than we have ever seen them (safely so– when you are in a crowd it is hard to get close to the show.)

Fireworks
Fireworks taken by Rachel

I suspect, judging from how much fun the kids had, that THIS will be our new July 4th tradition.