Tag: unschooling

Strewn

I have been thinking about strewing a lot, mostly because people keep asking about it. So I thought I would share some examples in our house (way less than usual because we have most stuff packed up and away or gotten rid of.)

Our new "This week's specials" board. This has the main foods available for quick meals and snacks each week.

The chalkboard on the cabinet and the food bins on the shelf and in the fridge are new additions. And yes, they are a type of strewing.   The chalkboard is so when I come home from shopping, instead of making a mealplan, I can quickly note the foods I bought so everyone knows what is available at a glance, and I can remove things if they go bad or get eaten.

Fridge: each person has a bin for the special "just for them" foods. And yes, we are almost out of cheese-- picking some up tomorrow. 🙂 We have two fridges, this one is mostly the stuff people grab during the day, the other is raw milk and backup stuff.

I don’t do meal plans and with everyone having certain foods they don’t like and do and other things they can and cannot eat it helps to have things organized so people can find what they are looking for and know what is there (and hopefully it will help us have less waste.)

Shelves

We have been searching for a solution that would allow the kids (and hubby) to know which foods I bought just for them and which are someone else’ as well as which things I have set aside for them (things which might otherwise get pushed to the back of the fridge.) This way one person doesn’t eat something that I bought special for someone else, at least not without asking first.

Most of our strewing is now via internet– either Facebook or Google chat or even email.  I took the following pictures while taking the other ones– they serve as a good example of why computer strewing works for us. 🙂

Esther playing Sims.

 

Esther was getting tired here– she has been going to bed in early evening so she can get up early and work on her book with friends online in other time zones.)  She spent the next hour after this watching our new Animaniacs dvds (which Issac bought with his own money.)

Issac playing online with a friend.

Issac was playing Roblox and talking to a friend in New Jersey as he does most days.

Rachel talking online with a friend while drawing and occasionally playing piano.

Rach was playing piano, drawing (working on illustrations for Esther’s book), and talking with a friend in Arizona.
The strewing photos here include just a few places– mostly living room and bathroom– yes, I strew in the bathroom.

Our coffee table strewn with rocks and game pieces.

I always keep the red painted locally hand-carved wooden  bowls (I adore these bowls) out in the living room out (there are more on the shelves and on the mantle) and fill them with random stuff that is interesting– some always have cool rocks because we all love rocks and love picking them up and messing with them. The other two contain game pieces from a set Rachel got for Christmas from my brother.

Our shelf strewn with games and rocks and vintage wooden boxes for holding more stuff when we aren't getting ready to move.

The board is on the shelf above (ontop of Blockus–which is an awesome game)– this way when they are bored they remember that it is there. I think next to come out will be the gaming dice– a bowl of those will be fun. In the past the bowls have had Christmas bulbs, random baubles, marbles, and fake cut gem stones from Michaels. Under the coffee table is a vintage wooden box with our magic cards, and another full of gaming devices and dvds. In the shelves on the coffee table are books I think the kids will like.

Books on the back of the toilet. Yes, is blurry.

We always keep books in the bathroom, along with writing utensils in case someone wants to do a workbook or crossword.

Shelf in bathroom.

More often I find the books and magazines disappear from the bathroom as once someone starts reading they tend to take it with them.

Interview with Esther

Interviews continued.  If you missed the first one: Jennifer over at Path Less Taken has been interviewing her kids.  I did that  several years ago with all three (here) so I decided to do it again and see how things had changed.   I started with Rachel which is here and now Essie.

1. What is something Mom always says to do?

*thinking* *shrugs* I don’t know.

 

2. What makes Mom happy?

When I clean the house and stuff voluntairily

 

3. What makes Mom sad?

When I ignore her when she says please clean this up or whatever.

 

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Points out funny things that I have said, points out funny things on the internet.

 

5. What was your mom like as a child?

Me.

(almost exactly to the point of freakiness)

6. How old is your mom?

No idea.

 

7. How tall is your mom?

*Laughs* Still no idea.
8. What is her favorite thing to do?

As far as I know so far, play Tripletown.

(Current obsession so for now, yes.)

 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

I have no idea, because you don’t do it when I’m around.

 

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

Painting.

 

11. What is your mom really good at?

Painting. And taking care of us.

 

12. What is your mom not very good at?

*Thinking* Mmmm, Tripletown.

 (Stupid bears.)

 

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Paint

 

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?
*Long think* I don’t know. Salad as far as I know. I think it’s salad.

 

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

Her painting, her skill of taking car of us, her skill at taking care of us, her skill at cooking, her skill at cleaning, her skill on the computer.

 

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

I don’t know.

 

17. What do you and your mom do together?

Draw.

 

18. How are you and your mom the same?

Personality.

 

19. How are you and your mom different?

Height.
20. How do you know your mom loves you?

Says it every day, says it in her actions, and how she interacts with me.

 

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

*scratches nose in thought* I don’t know.

 

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.

Where We Are: September 2011

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.

Idlewild 2011
The kids on a ride at a rare trip to Idlewild park (carload days are awesome.)

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.)

P1090397
The youngest son of a friend who sheltered with us during Hurricane Irene.

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 just got a package
The kids opening the box of Magic: the Gathering cards friends sent us-- our living room is overrun.

 
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.

Goings ons: GAPS, unschooling, work and more

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

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

 

P1090081

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

P1090050

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

 

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  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.

Unschooling Revelation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I CU

Intensive Care for the Christian Unschooler– this 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.

God’s Thumbprints

I haven’t talked a lot about it lately, well, because there have been so many other things going on, however a friend of mine started a monthly meme called “God’s Thumbprints” in order to remember to record what God is doing so, here I am.

For those who don’t know (and I know there are a lot of you now because of the  CU group) my husband went from full time programmer and full time writer a few years ago (the same week my mom died) to part time programmer and then this last summer switched to no time programmer (except for personal projects like the game he is still working on in his head) and full time writer.  This would be fine, really, because he gets paid to be a full time writer as well, except that he hasn’t been paid for being a full time writer, despite continuing to BE a full time writer for almost exactly a year now.  This means that since last July we have been living completely on what we had saved and God’s provision.  We are trusting that he will EVENTUALLY be paid by this company and if not that the Lord will provide from other means.  He has gotten us through in many amazing ways, from friends gifting us (both money and food– our friends are AMAZING!!!! and God has used them in many miraculous ways right down to the necessary ingredients showing up WHILE I was cooking), Google ads from Shamus’ site, donations from Shamus’ readers, web design and painting work I have done and miscellaneous other  sources.  You can read through my stories of how God got us through the winter here.

We haven’t been in as dire straights as we were this winter, mostly because the Lord provided that despite no  regular income we would get back almost all of the money we paid in taxes.  And due to small incomes from various jobs I have been doing plus Shamus’ Google ads we are leaking slowly instead of going through it all in 3 months as we expected.  We are, however, in a place where we really need to be careful and wise with our spending.  Not that we aren’t normally but extras are extras and we are avoiding those (we did use some of the money from our tax return to get some things we really needed and had been putting off).

So, God’s provision.  Well.

  • This last week I went to the farm to get milk.  I have been putting it off because other than a steady stream of ground beef and eggs we didn’t need as much from the farm with the GAPS diet.  I use milk only for making yogurt and kefir right now, so the 4 gallons I buy is lasting longer (4 gallons of raw milk for $16 is an amazing blessing btw– thank you Vicki!)  So last week I went not knowing how much cash was in my purse.  Poor Vicki is used to this– I remind myself of the missionary who found a bag of cash, invited some military men to breakfast, and then afterwards finally counted the money, praying he would have enough (true story– he did, right down to the tip though while he was praying and counting he asked God if maybe there might be a tiny bit left over for him– there wasn’t).    So anyway, I knew I didn’t have much cash as my grandmother has recently moved much nearer and now instead of once  a week I visit twice a week and often have to run out and get her things.  So, as usual, I started with the milk because I KNEW I had enough for that.  Then I got the meat, because I knew we needed it and I would just buy as much as I had cash for.  Well I had enough for 2 extra lbs.  Then I still had enough for 2 dozen eggs.  THEN I still had enough for 2 bricks of cheese.  It was like the cash was multiplying in my purse.  Vicki and I just watched it happen as I had enough for EVERYTHING I needed.  God is SO awesome!  Oh, and I had $3 left over. 🙂  (And if you go back and read some of my archives you will see that this is not unusual in our household– we have an AWESOME God.)
  • Another cool God thing that I haven’t had a chance to share.  My food processor died.  (So did the dryer, and the blender, and I swear everything in the house is dying.)  I REALLY need to get a good one.  I used to have a Bosch.  Loved it to death.  Literally.  It died after 10 years of daily use.  I didn’t know what to do because it was smoking and therefore I really shouldn’t use it.  So I prayed about it and prayed some more.  Then I realized that my grandmother had given me money for Mother’s Day.  Not enough to buy a good one but enough to buy a decent one on sale.  So I researched and found one that was almost $100 everywhere else, on sale that DAY at Target for $60–the amount I had.  The motor was slightly stronger than the one that just died on me after a year (never buy a Black & Decker food processor– the bowl was cracked into hairline fractures within a week of getting it and it just got worse from there.)  So now I have a working food processor again, which is necessary because I use it AT LEAST once a daily– usually more than that.  Someday I am getting a good one but for now this will do. 🙂
  • Another awesome God thing that happened recently.  Facebook transferred the old groups over to the new group format.  Suddenly the Christian unschooling group I created several years ago showed up and had people in it.  200 people!  200 people TALKING and loving each other and encouraging each other!  Of course I had the other group already and that was a bit of a mess but now that is mostly worked out and so we have a huge group of people to love and support one another which has been such a blessing to all of us.  And yes, there have been some hiccups but for the most part we all get along and treat each other with kindness, respect, and grace, which is awesome.  It also means that suddenly I have a ministry facilitating and leading women again.  I thought I was done with that when we left the church we were in and suddenly God thrust mew into this place again.  Let me tell you, it is hard even though this group is really great and loving.  I am not naturally a leader (I call it the church planter mentality– I like to start things then backup and watch them develop on their own, handing off administration to others).  Instead God has handed me this group of women to encourage and it is scary and amazing– because I am not such a great leader– my spiritual gifts (the ones I am sure of) are service/helps and knowledge– my HUSBAND has the gift of leadership, not me!  GAH!  Anyway, God is working and it is a beautiful thing and exciting to see so many new to CU being encouraged (and many are new to unschooling completely though there are a few of us who have been doing it for a while and are comfortable in our own skins.  Sometimes I forget how hard it is to be starting because I am so used to not fitting in.)

Now go visit Mandy at A Bona fide Life and share what God is doing in YOUR life!

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.