I experimented a bit with different recorders for my phone after both Shamus and Issac complained about the horrible sound quality of my original recordings (purists) that might work better for my drive. I found one that I think works all right. At least I sound like myself. And since I have no script (because I am driving when I record) it is still rambly but now that I have recorded several (which I will be rerecording with the new recorder) I am figuring out how to do this whole “talking while driving with no script about a specific subject” thing better.
The recording is still not perfect. But this one was recorded while it was pouring rain whole I was driving and the sound isn’t absolutely horrible so… step in the right direction.
So welcome to the new, new Unschool Carpool starring just me… Heather Young (and other people when and if they are in the car with me. I do have a two part episode that I recorded with the kids that I will share despite it being recorded with the old recorder because now the kids are in Texas so I can’t rerecord it. )
On the Christian Unschooling Facebook group we get weekly requests for unschooling podcasts, especially ones from a Christian perspective. My team has been trying for ages to find time and energy to get together and make a proper podcast. We ideally would like to make a group one using our admin team. But it just hasn’t happened. We all are working or going to school and there is no way we can fit a regular (or even irregular) meeting time in our already busy schedules.
Enter the (Christian) Unschool Carpool podcast. I drive to the university 35 minutes away several time a day. Sometimes I have my charge in the car (5 yr old A, who is lovely and sweet and super fun and loves my cell phone full of games for her to play.) But the rest of the time I am on my own. This means lots and lots of audio books…. BUT it also means I have plenty of time to record in a relatively quiet (aside from traffic noises) environment. It also means no script. Which means I ramble. Because that is what I do. I would do it even if I HAD a script. But since I am driving the same long straight road day in and day out I have this nice long boring stretch of road where I can drive and talk at my phone about the questions people have asked about unschooling, radical unschooling, Christian unschooling, and all the other stuff people ask over and over again.
Obviously this is not nearly as interesting as a conversational podcast (which I did record with the kids on an hour drive to Pittsburgh and which was very, very fun) but it is a start. And if it works then my co-admins can answer the same questions and then, when we find time, we can record some together. At least we hope so.
This first podcast is available as both an mp3 and as an ogg (and I will also try to upload it to my youtube channel for people who prefer that but for right now we will try it this way.) Eventually I will upload it somewhere that works for rss but this is a start. It isn’t perfect. I don’t have time for a lot of editing and I am just learning to use the audio editor so please forgive the weird cuts (I pause a lot when I am talking on a good day and while recording… I pause more so I was playing with removing them) and the sounds of traffic.
This podcast is the first, obviously and therefore basically an intro. A “how we ended up unschooling in the first place, and how we ended up becoming radical unschoolers” type story. It is a story of us, as a family, and how we got where we are. How God brought us here, because He most certainly did. (Did I mention rambling? Yeah.)
We get the “my kids are doing nothing but play video games/watch tv/look at a screen and I can’t stand it, what should I do?” question about once every week or so on our (now huge) Christian unschooling Facebook group. It has become the norm. We are all kind of tired of it. Really. For many reasons. Mostly because we hear the fear, we know the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred yet, and we know it will be a fight to get there, and that part is exhausting. The following is a recent response that I wrote while super-short on sleep 😀 but which ended up covering all the basics in one place.
To pull from something my dear friend Pam often points out; how much time is “nothing other than game on their PC/ds/Wii”. Do they get up to get a drink? Go to the bathroom? Eat something? Sleep? If they are doing those things then clarify. They are doing something other than just playing games. They are probably getting up. They may even jump around, do other things. They may spend a few minutes getting something, look something up, they may even go play with something else for a while, go outside, play together beside the tv, they are very likely doing something else too. We need to see those things and recognize that no, the child is not spending “all their time”, they are spending more time than we feel comfortable with.When we start out with a generalization, it is really hard to get from the viewpoint of seeing it in a negative light to seeing “screens” as many different types of learning and internal things going on and the screen itself as just the media they are getting those things.
My husband spends the majority of his day in front of a screen. Working, playing, socializing. He does many different things and yes, he has always preferred doing things in front of a computer screen to elsewhere- there are just so many more things to do, it is a vast world full of many, many types of media in one place- no huge mess to clean up when he wants to play a game, he can write quickly and efficiently, read quickly and move between many different things to read, watch a movie, change the movie, and so on. It is an amazing, miraculous thing that allows us to communicate with our friends across the world (he collaborates with people all across the US weekly on huge projects), work anywhere (he works with people from all across the globe) and so on. It is amazing that this technology is available in our lifetimes and our children get to learn the language of it now, easily, without fear. Our kids are going to live in a world where much of their time is going to be in front of the computer. Some people won’t, but the vast majority will. They will use it for work, for play, for socialization, and as unschoolers we have the freedom to let them learn it right now, first hand, and be proficient at it. This is a huge boon compared to kids who are stuck in a classroom unable to look things up as they are interested. Our kids will be well prepared for the future, right now.
“Technology is here to stay. So why would I choose to keep my kids illiterate in the language that they may need for the future? A half an hour a day does not give kids time to explore the land scape.” ~Aza Donnelly
That said, if you are still really uncomfortable with how much time they are spending, then you get off the computer (you are here, reading this, communicating with others, online) and do really cool things out where they will see. Things that they will love. You make things available that go with what they love on their games (you will probably have to get online to research those things). You find things that associate with what they are doing so there is a connection- if they are into a game that has an associated tv show or other media then there are probably lots of products out there related to it- pick up a book connected with it, or some figurines, or whatever. If there is a website that has info about the game they are playing (hints, a walkthrough, a wiki- my kids learned to navigate the internet and read because they loved looking up info for their games) put it on your screen and show it to them. If the fact that they would be reading it on a screen bothers you, then you can often buy a gamers guide but they do get expensive. Offer to help them create a database of the characters and their skills, or print up ones you find online for quick reference. Pick up a gaming magazine for kids, or a book about the collectibles or whatever. Find ways you can connect with the kids where they are, ask them about the games, the shows, whatever. Bring them healthy finger foods if you are worried about what they are eating or that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them about the game, what they are playing, the plot, the people in the games. Let them know you are thinking about them and want to encourage their interests. Find some aspect you can understand and join them where they are.
This will help you connect with them and really get a feel for what they are getting out of all the things they do on that form of media, and maybe even why. And as they feel you are really trying and aren’t going to “take it away” and that you aren’t frowning about it at them, they will loosen their hold on it a bit and gradually they will start joining you in the cool things you are doing (not all), they will start looking at the books, playing with the associated toys or crafts, and so on. (Many of us have minecraft posters on the wall, or Pokemon, or Skylanders, or Terraria, and books, and action figures, stuffies, houses full of geek references.) Meeting them where they are will help you feel connection with them again (which is usually where the parents panic when they start feeling the kids are doing “nothing but screen things”.) It takes time for both sides, but it is like learning another language and our kids get to do it first-hand and be prepared for this changing world where screens are an everyday all the time part of our lives.
Our oldest is back in Texas for a 3 week visit. Everything fell in place perfectly for her to spend her 16th birthday there at her best friends’ home so we went ahead despite winter’s unpredictable weather.
The first day of the trip was awesome despite the bus leaving an hour late and driving straight through due to snow and ice. She made friends with a girl about her age from China who barely spoke English. She helped her get where she need to be and do what she needed to do. They watched their favorite shows together (Thor which they watched in English with Chinese subtitles and Heartstrings- a Korean drama which they watched in Korean with English subtitles). They shared Rachel’s food (there was snow and ice and they were running late so they they didn’t stop at any of the normal stops for food). It was amazing and wonderful and Rue was thrilled that God was clearly in this trip.
The second day was HARD. She had a pack of Pocky left for her breakfast and wouldn’t get in till 9:30pm. (I really wish I had bought her a few more buns at the Asian grocery store (I ran in while she waited in line to get check in.) They were running really late still so weren’t making any stops and when they did stop there were only broken machines. At one point the bus broke down. She had a layover in Oklahoma City with no way to get food as the machines were all broken. Finally they got to Amarillo where she missed her transfer and her luggage had gone missing (they think it went to Dallas but so far no one is sure as it hasn’t turned up yet yet.) She ended up stuck in Amarillo, well after the time she was supposed to be in Lubbock, after everything had closed, waiting for our friends to drive an extra hour to come pick her up with no way to get any food and no luggage.
They took her to eat, took her home, found some clean clothes for her to wear, and they all crashed. Today they are heading into the city to the Greyhound station to see if they can track down her luggage and go thrift shopping for some new clothes to tide her over. A friend is sending a replacement for her Bamboo Tablet (which was in her luggage) and she received another pair of headphones as a late Christmas gift. So the big things that were lost (if the luggage isn’t found) have been replaced. Her brother gave her some money for her birthday and she will receive a little more which will help cover the rest of her loss. Not the most fun way of spending your 16th birthday but being with her best friends will make up for it.
We are praying that her luggage does show up and soon since we aren’t sure how much to replace and what to wait for. Regardless it will make a great story someday and she still has 2.5 weeks of time with her friends before she gets to deal with Greyhound again.
*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.
We finished Rachel’s Chell costume (from Portal) tonight. Issac had to test out the Portal gun: made from a small soda bottle, a 2 liter, foam, paper, tape, glue gun, some pieces of plastic and wire found around the house, and a glow stick. Designed by Rachel with help from Mom. The boots are real boots with stockings over (drawn on with sharpie) and lots of electrical and packing tape.
Seth Barnes wrote today about being interruptible in terms of leading and mentoring young missionaries and it got me thinking about it in terms of parenting and unschooling, especially when both parents work from home plus in terms of the mentoring I do of Christian unschoolers and others who contact me regularly via email and Facebook. In Christ being a leader (whether of a group of 800 or just in your home as a parent) means being a servant. Being a servant means being available. Being available means you are setting yourself for exhaustion if you don’t make sure to recharge. If you are being there for others 24/7 then you need to take what opportunities He provides to rest and make sure you are filled up with Him. July took a lot out of me. It was a very hard month. This month is just as full but in more fun ways and He has been showing me how to serve while taking care of my heart and mind so I can better serve.
Anyone who knows me well knows I am a non-planning laid back sort of person. When I try to plan and schedule things I get caught up in my plans and forget to enjoy life. So instead I come up with a tentative plan and trust God with it– His plans are way more awesome than mine. 🙂 So I am naturally fairly interrupt-able. Once upon a time I was obsessed with reading missionary biographies. ONe in particular said something that stuck with me. It was something about how being interrupted was God’s way of getting him where He wants him. Back then I decided I needed to make sure I was doing that– seeing interruptions as God getting my attention and refocusing me on what was important. I have also needed to learn when I have to stop and how to work things so I have the breaks I need in order to recharge properly. I am introverted despite my constant interactions and needed to learn how to get the recharge time I need to I can be what others need when they need it. So, even though we have had company visiting and lots going on in the group I admin (with the help of 11 beautiful, gentle women who help me keep things loving and thoughtful when anger and frustration rear their heads), plus the kids needing this and that and just wanting to talk, I wander out to the porch with my book and read until one of the kids joins me on the porch for a chat. I take a long quiet bath or watch a bit of a movie or read or bake or take a walk, anything to get the rest my brain needs when I can so that when I am needed I am recharged and ready.
Yesterday I was blessed with a minor road trip to the airport with several visits interspersed– some with people I have never met, others I hold dear, but in the midst of it I had time driving alone. I love driving, especially in new places with interesting sights. I love being able to see God’s handiwork everywhere and have quiet conversations with Him as I navigate roads, having faith that He will get me safely where I am going whether I know how to get there or not (the kids will tell you I am never lost since I know where I am– right here– and know where I am going though only God knows how to get between the two though I very often am in the place where I don’t know how to get from here to there and spend that time prayerfully driving and we eventually get where we want to be). It was a day that was not planned, other than getting to the airport on time and meeting up with Grace’s friend’s family. Everything else was spontaneous and relaxed and filled with the freedom to wait and see what God had in store. The visits were a lovely blessing and the space to drive and pray and think was just what I needed after such a hectic week. God worked it all out perfectly so that not only did I get plenty of time with Grace before seeing her off and time with my brother-in-law and his beautiful and very pregnant wife, but I also got plenty of downtime alone with Him. And I have learned that if I watch and wait He will provide those times in the midst of the busy-ness if I keep my eyes open– I just need to be ready to take them.
Everything is an adventure and I love seeing where God is leading us and watching to see how He works it all out. And very, very often it is those interruptions, those messages on Facebook, or those emails, or phone calls that remind me where He IS working and how I can help in this or that circumstance. Those interruptions also remind me that He uses everything for good. Our various health issues, behavioral stuff with the kids as well as both Shamus and my learning issues in school, and the way He has worked to heal us through various diet related things, my studies of herbalism and wildcrafting, food related stuff, our indie book publishing, writing, fixing things, unschooling experiences, gentle parenting experiences, art stuff, the list goes on. I have messages daily about all sorts of things that people are struggling with — areas that I have past experience with that helps and encourages them. It amazes and blesses me daily that God is redeeming those experiences through these “interruptions” in what I think I should be doing.
Addendum– as I wrote this I also helped Issac figure out ideas for things to build in Minecraft (including finding him graph paper, ruler, and pencil so he could draw out his ideas), and had several conversations with Rach.
On the house front we have a buyer– maybe. Have to get a “dye test” done for the sewer and if that needs work then the buyer is walking– so still no idea when we will have to move and just waiting on God.
Otherwise all is well and the Lord has continued to provide enough for the coming month. It has been so awesome to see where the money comes from each month– some from book sales, some from website stuff and art sales, some from ads, some from donations, but regardless it is just enough eacah time.
The kids are busy and happy and growing and learning and just plain awesome. We got to go meet up with some fellow Christian unschoolers yesterday at Old Bedford Village which was so much fun despite the heat. I am thinking that is another post though.
The Christian Unschooling group I run (now with the help of 11 wonderful ladies) on Facebook is growing by leaps and bounds with roughly 20 new people a WEEK and all sorts of conversations ranging from basic unschooling and Christianity questions to health to prayer requests to who knows what (today’s big question was about coffee– best type of coffee maker and coffee because one of the kids wanted to know so Mom asked.:)) It takes a lot of time and energy to keep up but it is amazing to see what God is doing and I am so grateful for my small group of admins who help me keep it kind, gentle, and away from the danger zones.
I AM remembering to post recent pictures of the kids but mostly just to my Facebook page for the blog since I am on Facebook for the group all the time and am able to quickly upload them there now (used to be nearly impossible for me to upload pictures to Facebook, plus their policy about photos used to be squiffy). So if you want to see where we have been and what the kids have been doing and learning you can find the pictures here: http://www.facebook.com/untraditionalhome?
Also, I have been updating my Etsy shop with all the art I have sitting around that never got posted (still have Sherwood Showdown paintings to post but otherwise I think I have them all up there and decently organized). Lots more geeky stuff for sale plus art from Shamus’ book: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ElasahArt
This month (and the end of August) has seen as much busy-ness as our summer though of a new variety. We are prayerfully considering what direction we should be heading financially (have money to live on for the moment and had hoped to save up and live on it longer by bringing in more income but that all but stopped when the check finally came. Good thing God knows what He is doing (and He obviously has us trusting Him completely in this) because we have no idea. Well, we have some slight direction, and the Lord is kind of herding us in a certain direction that we are getting more and more comfortable with but the logistics of it all are still kind of out there and we don’t feel free to share yet. Still no money for the house payment and we are just waiting for the bank to kick us out– packing things up that we don’t need so we can simplify significantly is what we are focused on at the moment. Due to our awkward financial circumstances (no steady income, no savings, everything pretty unstable) they aren’t willing to work with us (not that I blame them.) So we will see what is around the next bend.
In the meantime, still doing GAPS– in fact we are being more rigorous with it while we are here so we can kick some more food allergies (which will simplify things down the road.)
We are still unschooling (and yes, the kids are still learning way more than they ever did when workbooks were a way of life for us).
We are focusing on doing the next thing, whatever that is, as the Lord guides us. Right now that means I will be painting, purging excess stuff (and God willing having a yard sale, taking my grandmother shopping several times a week, helping Shamus with his projects, and more time to spend with the kids; chatting with them, being with them, loving them where they are. Shamus is currently working on his autoblography which when done, God willing, will become an eBook memoir.
If you would be praying for wisdom and direction, especially regarding our finances and where the Lord wants us but also regarding spiritual things He is showing us recently, we would heartily appreciate it.
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 over to the CU blog, add your site to the linky at the bottom there.)
“This week we want to…” prepare for a yard sale and figure out ways to get enough money to go visit friends that are moving soon and get enough together to go to the science center before our membership is over. “The kids are…” enjoying Issac’s new scooter, struggling with the fact that we are tight with money again and can’t do all that they want to do. Issac is adoring the Green Electricity Snap Circuit Kit he bought with his Christmas money (he saved it till now). “I am learning….” more like relearning. I am having to place everything in God’s hands, again. WHEN am I going to learn? “I am struggling with…” trusting that God will provide. There are things that really need to be done this month (I mean yeah, they don’t have to but this is our last month our our science center membership and we would like to go at least one more time, we have two different friends moving in the next month (1 3 hrs away, the other 5 hrs away) both of which my oldest really wants to visit before they move because it is likely once they move we will never see them. And honestly I have no idea where the money will come from to do any of that since we are that place– the car needs inspected this month, and we are coming up empty–we are back to waiting for provision for the basics let alone for road trips. He has provided thus far and I am trusting that He will continue but…I am nervous and I really shouldn’t be. I KNOW He is Jehovah Jireh. I KNOW He has provided in the past. I just wish I could get the rest of me to remember and accept instead of worrying. Yes, I am struggling with panic– we are in the month the house foreclosure can take place and it is scary sice we have no backup plan and what we thought God was doing hasn’t happened (and suddenlyShamus switched gears from the book to programming and we were hoping that would get finished soon.) So…trusting Jehovah Jireh.
Apparently my lack of sleep these last few nights is also getting to me even though I “feel” fine– not tired or anything. Just irritable and anxious. I think Mandy might be onto something there. I think a lot of that is a shift in what I am eating–still eating GAPS but out of some key components and so haven’t been eating according to my cravings, which means I often just can’t be bothered to eat (eating plenty, just meh.).
“This week is the first time….” hmmmm, trying to think of first here. I guess it is the first time I have had a Facebook Bible discussion group– which is amazing and awesome and relaxed and beautiful and EXACTLY the type of Bible discussion group I have always wanted. No schedule, no real plan, just lets study what God has to say about this word and everyone posts as they feel led. Beautiful.
I am grateful for… (Yes, I added this one, will probably add it to the whole list on the group blog.) God’s provision. Yesterday we needed milk from the farm (and eggs and meat and cheese ) and since they are only open Tuesday and Thursday evenings (well and Sat but we don’t do Saturday stuff) I needed to go if I was going. I had been praying all day because we didn’t have the money to go and get what we needed and really were low on groceries. And then a friend gifted us with enough to go! So we went and it was such a blessed time. Rach and I stopped and visited my step-brother to give him his birthday gift which we have been carrying around for over a month. We were able to spread the cash out to cover plenty of milk and meat plus lots of eggs and cheese and bananas (key on the GAPS diet). We were able to check the gift cards that a friend sent us for Chili’s (we have had gift cards sent in the mail before that something the postal service did demagnetized them and they didn’t work so always check them before purchasing anything) and the gift cards are good so hubby and I get a date night!!! Anyway, it was an evening of one blessing after another and it was amazing and awesome and God is so good! And then we had enough in our gift fund to give to another friend in need which was also a blessing– I love being able to help others even if it isn’t much. God has blessed us in such amazing ways that I want to pass on those blessings!
Oh, and both girls wrote essays for the Gaming Angels girls Computer Camp contest and I am proud of both of them– they did a beautiful job and each essay is so unique and really shows their personality and thought processes.