Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's game night again

I love game night with my kids, we have so much fun and make the best memories, laughing and scheming and plotting and kicking butt. We all have games we're best at and game we can't stand playing. I love listening to the girls decide which game we'll play first. The negotiations are so cute. "I'll giv eyou my pink bandana if we can play Operation first" and "Fine, but you need to make my bed and feed my dog for one week." Have you seen the modern Hasbro Operation Silly Skill Game with Sound FX 2008 Ed.? It's so annoying. You have to listen to the patient's symptoms instead of pulling a card in order to see what kind of surgery he needs. It's ridiculous. We also like playing charades. I'm thinking of getting a copy of Charades Party Game - Family Charades-in-a-Box Compendium Board Game to help us decide what to charade because a lot of times the kids choose the most trivial and obscure things. So what about you? What games do you enjoy? What games do your kids enjoy? I hope you're having game nights, it's so much fun.
familygamenight.net

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hooray for solitude

The belief that divorce is bad is so silly.  Divorce is just a side-effect of marriage, in some cases.  Actually, in every case that divorce exists, right? You can't be divorced without being married, right?  So if we end the plague of marriages, we can also end the scourge of divorce.

My divorce was the happiest and most liberating event of my entire life. Marriage was so totally miserable and soul-crushing that the moment I was free, I knew I'd be OK. I remember feeling so scared and trapped and helpless all the time. I suspected I could run life better without the constant fear and threats and manipulation, but the proof came when I finally made it out. We haven't suffered any more poverty since the marriage ended, indeed life has been much easier. We also haven't had to cater to anyone else's temper or mood swings, that was so scary and unpredictable. You can complain about divorce rates all you want and pretend that it's a bad thing but the truth is, for this family, it's been the very best thing in life. Any
Image Source

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to recycle Brita Water Filters

So here we are in the middle of a crazy moving situation and we're back and forth to the recycling center and the goodwill donation center. As if moving isn't difficult enough, I find myself with ten thousand Brita filter cartridges that need to be recycled. Surely, these can be recycled, right? Well, we went to the recycling facility near the old house and they had no idea what to do with the cartridges. Then we went to the recycling center near the new house and they were just as confused. So I had to go to the Brita website to find the information and it's actually the super easiest recycling activity ever, no matter where we have lived, the recycling couldn't be easier because all you need to do is print their free shipping label and mail them in. It's so easy and it's free. Unless you buy a box, but honestly, you should just save the box they came in. So what sort of strange moving-related dilemmas have you found yourself in? We've moved so much that we have a million moving-related stories to tell but right now I'm trying to get work done, so I should probably wrap that conversation up for a later date. Suffice it to say that right now, our 700 mile commute for the kids' school program is moving enough.
Image Source

Big family secrets


Did you ever want to know one of the smartest secrets of big families? I should have had a way more enticing first line for this paragraph because the title of this post could totally be something controversial, right?  What's a big family secret? Like maybe Grandma used to work in a brothel or maybe Uncle Hank likes to dress like a woman (not judging, just saying...) and who knows what else could be going on.  What's your big family secret?

This is really about the secret to running a large household.  It's no secret that I have six kids and so we probably spend way more than anyone else we know on our living expenses. Life gets expensive and sometimes you need to just be willing to invest in better stuff.  LIke Hotel Bar Supplies from places like Atlanta Hotel Supply.  When you shop at a restaurant or Hotel Supply Online then you don't have to worry about buying cheap materials that will break.  Commercial supplies are UL listed, which means that dirt and grime and germs won't be caught up in the cracks. You can run them through the dishwasher and trust that they're clean.  Your family deserves that.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moving on up to the west side

Moving is so much fun when you have a good solid plan When I was married, most of our moves were emergencies and so traumatic and stressful. I remember carrying furniture down the stairs of a two story house when I was like 7 months pregnant with Grace and feeling so sad that I had to leave Our Piano behind because I couldn't move it myself. When we moved into the house we bought things were a little easier. his friend owned the house we were living in so he was less tempted to leave things behind. But when we left the house we owned after it was foreclosed upon, we left behind a few things and I was so angry about it. Not as angry as I was when my school yearbooks and heirloom family ornaments were left behind in California. My goodness, I think every time we moved was one more nail in our marriage coffin. Moving since the divorce has been awesome. Nothing has ever been left behind and I was able to clean before I was done. Without anyone to tell me they would take care of things, I was able to just take control and get shit done. Now I'm living in the best house I've ever had and I don't plan to move unless I'm getting remarried (fat chance) or moving to Seattle or Portland. Actually, I'm voting for Seattle. Either way. What about you? What are your favorite and least favorite moves?
Graphic Source

Monday, September 9, 2013

dresses for homecoming

I love it when the new homecoming dresses come out. Often, when people hear about how many daughters I have, they cringe at the thought of all the formal dresses and fancy things we'll have to buy. We shop online and at thrift shops, yard sales and things like that so we always have a ton of formalwear around the house just waiting for the perfect occasion. I love the way all the frilly and lacy fabrics look hanging in the closet and my girls love being able to dress their friends when they come over needing help to get ready. In addition to dresses, there's always accessories, like clutch purses and shawls and hair things. I used to be licensed to do hair (and I will be again in a few months) so I can usually drum up some sort of sparkly braidy curled updo in a pinch. My older daughter has gotten really good at it, too. I love having a house full of girls.

I love this dress: it's so Audrey Hepburn, look at the A line skirt, the beaded waist and the chiffon is so fluffy and feminine.




Another one of my favorites is this one:

I think I'd prefer it in a different color, other than red.  Something about red dresses and my teenage daughters just doesn't ring well, they look beautiful but I'm always just so shocked by how mature they look. If I were out shopping and I saw this in purple, black, cream, pink, navy or green even brown or yellow I'd totally buy it, it's so festive and just made for spinning around.  My girls do swing dancing, so the spin factor is important. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Family Dinners

My 10 yr old recently complained that we never sit down at the table to eat family dinners. She saw a commercial on TV for some Family Dinner project that encouraged families to sit down to meals together and I find it annoying. It's not that I don't want to hang out with my kids, it's quite the opposite. We're together constantly and dinner is no exception. The time we spend together is playing in the yard, reading stories, watching shows together, playing games at the table, creating art, and even cooking together. SO WHAT if we don't all eat the same thing at the same time. The truth is, everyone isn't hungry at the same time. Also, they don't all want to eat the same thing. I find myself in the kitchen all day every day, like a short order cook. And that's fine. But it's not conducive to feeding 8 people at the same time every night.


familydinners.org
And the odds of everyone even being home at the same time on any given night are slim to none. I have busy teenagers who have to be at play rehearsals and dance practice and social events, work and school. I have younger kids who have activities, too. I think that once our school year is kicked into high gear it might be easier to feed everyone at the same time. But still, it's unlikely that everyone will want to eat the same thing on the same night. We're going to try this newfangled "family dinner" thing but I have a feeling it's not going to last long. It just doesn't make sense for us. I guess we'll see. I can see how it would be beneficial for families who are busy with public school and working outside the home and all sorts of other anti-family activities but for us it's just unnecessary and impractical. We eat together in small groups, several times a day. I can't even imagine we'd have better conversations wif we were all eating together, there are a lot of us :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hello Kitty Birthdays

Planning a hello Kitty birthday can be so much fun. because she's so cute, and cartoony, it's easy to make a Hello Kitty cake for a birthday cake. I found a bunch of great ideas at homemadebirthdays.com. Plus, they have cheap hello kitty invitations to order. I will post pictures next week.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spoiled teenagers? Not in this generation

Excerpted from: Death on a Silver Platter:

What do these people think life is all about when they say modern kids have “life handed to them on a silver platter?” Because the children they’re speaking of have bodies (and therefore minds) robbed of nutrition, and are sheltered even in nice weather. And what of human affection, when mainstream parenting “experts” defy thousands of years of human evolution by speaking out against co-sleeping and saying that daycare is OK for infants? I think what modern kids are getting is really “Spiritual Death On a Silver Platter.”

I can’t even think of a time in history when kids have been more starved and neglected than today. They speak of an “obesity epidemic” as if it’s the children giving it to one another. But the reality is, aisles and aisles of dead, processed foods sit on grocery store shelves marketed especially for “busy families” with cartoon characters on the labels and “kid approved” stamps. As if the children really understand that prolonged exposure to non-nutritive foods is DEADLY. How could they know? What, in the history of evolution, would ever cause children to be skeptical of their food source? And the USDA food pyramid? What a joke, it has white bread on the picture. That’s not food.

So what about kids with cell phones, designer jeans and things like that? Why should kids- surrounded by the same advertising messages that cause their parents to piss away their income, be exempt? And in a culture that values consumerism, shopping-til-you-drop and “feeding the economy” – should the children be blamed for wanting? Of course they want, how could they not want? They are TRAINED and CONDITIONED to want. And it’s not because their parents gave them their old cell phone, it’s because 80% of the people in any given town have a cell phone, because there are no pay phones, because families who aren’t together still need to communicate and every night on the news, some kid is kidnapped and because cell phones really are more convenient and why the hell would anyone call a child spoiled just because they’re easy to get in touch with? Are we defined by our possessions? Oh yes, I forgot. In this culture we are, aren’t we? So adults with phones are important or responsible. Adults with iPhones are badass, but kids with cell phones are spoiled? Or are they only spoiled if they happen to want an upgrade? I’ve always had trouble with rules, sorry. And if the child has some remarkable character traits, like maybe they care for their elderly grandmother, they knit sweaters for the homeless, they call their elders Mr and Mrs, or maybe they dislike the taste of coffee, then are they still spoiled by virtue of the jeans they wear and the phone in their pocket?

And nutrition- isn’t it frightening that there’s a multi-billion dollar industry who makes a goal of reducing the number of women breastfeeding. Isn’t it rather disgusting that people view infant feeding as a consumer choice, rather than as a child’s inherent right to grow and develop the way nature intended? Why are chemicals the “popular alternative” and not banked human milk? Many of these kids are doomed from the day they are born, fed lies and toxins designed to turn them into lazy consumers.

Read more... Death on a Silver Platter

Saturday, September 25, 2010

for happier kids

I am so excited to tell you about an Interview Series for parents
and teachers called the Happier Kids Now Online Expo.

The Happier Kids Now Online Expo is a FREE Interview Series hosted
by Rhonda Ryder and Patrick McMillan providing a wealth of
life-changing information from 24 happiness, self-esteem, health
and education experts.

It’s specifically designed for parents, teachers and homeschoolers.

And, when you sign up for access to the event (at zero cost!),
you’ll receive a complimentary copy of Patrick’s popular Ebook, The
Ultimate Kids Guide to Happiness.

The line-up of speakers is incredible and includes Bruce Lipton,
PhD; Marianne Williamson; Bob Doyle; Marci Shimoff, Sonia
Choquette; Christine Carter, PhD, Shelly Lefkoe, Dr. Dan
Yachter…plus 16 more!

These leaders will cover current challenges such as child obesity;
child/teen depression; ADHD, autism and nutrition; how to help kids
do better in school…and solutions such as teaching kids the power
of their minds; emotional intelligence, character building,
positive parenting and so much more.

As you probably would agree, many parents and teachers are stressed
out and overwhelmed these days. This leaves its toll on kids and
teens.

Plus, statistics show childhood anxiety and depression levels are
rising at alarming rates.

Giving parents and teachers the strategies and tools to instill
optimism and self-confidence in their children and teens is the
mission of the Happier Kids Now Online Expo.

So don’t miss out. Grab your totally FREE Online Pass to this
amazing event – plus grab Patrick’s Ebook now!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Homeschooling Articles

I hope your homeschool year is off to a good start.  Here are some articles that might help you out:



Outdoor science lessons can be great for teaching children about nature. Try playing learning games and activities that use natural elements like leaves and acorns. Jumping in leaves isn't the only fall nature activity. Enjoy these nature themed activities and learning games for teaching preschoolers about nature.

Celebrate German Oktoberfest by planning an Oktoberfest Party with traditional Oktoberfest music, German costumes and activities for teaching kids German culture. Planning an Oktoberfest party Is a great way to learn about Germany for kids. German Oktoberfest is a popular celebration for adults and children. Here are games and activities to plan your own Oktoberfest party.

Make costumes inspired by homeschool history lessons. Find patterns for time period costumes online and at the library for a hands-on history project. Turn your homeschool history lesson into a time period halloween costume. Every era that has passed has brought its own share of fads and styles. Early humans, like cave men and Neanderthals can be identified by their animal skin clothing, and on each continent throughout history, clothing styles have evolved and brought with them materials, patterns, fabrics, textures and technological sewing processes unique to their generation.

Maternity Halloween Costumes for Pregnancy

Show off your pregnant belly, or disguise it for Halloween with these pregnant costume ideas, maternity costumes and Halloween ideas for pregnancy costumes.  Being pregnant for Halloween gives women a unique opportunity to integrate the pregnant belly into their costume plans. In areas with a warmer climate, bare-bellied maternity costumes are available and in other areas, costumes must be made or tailored to accommodate the belly.

Find easy Thanksgiving activities for homemade turkey decorations and turkey arts and crafts projects. Make a turkey template pattern and turkey ideas for gifts and more. It's time for Thanksgiving arts and crafts. Turkey projects are fun for kids of all ages. Gone are the days of the construction paper turkey hand. Today's thanksgiving crafts use a wide variety of materials, including craft-store feathers, recycled containers and many more readily available modern art supplies.

Help kids develop an attitude of gratitude with quotes about thankfulness. Learn activities for using quotations about gratefulness. Gratitude isn't just a Thanksgiving thing. Teaching children to be appreciative is a year-round effort. Using quotes for teaching gratitude is one way to encourage an attitude of gratitude.




Monday, September 20, 2010

Half of an update on our family

OK- I keep telling myself I need to blog more often. Life’s fun.
I think after writing so much nonfiction all the time, and sharing the little funny stories on Facebook all the time, I end up actually blogging less. I have several posts in draft about my older girls, but they don’t want me publishing them, and I do respect that. The entire blog is, after all, supposed to be a family scrapbook of memories anyway.
Last week we took the kids to the pet store for an impromptu field trip. Grace wanted to go see fish, so I’m trying to get some info on a hatchery in the area, but I think they may not give tours. We’ll see.
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned here that I’m itching to play on a trapeze. Actually- it’s the aerial silks that have me most excited, but it’s considered a trapeze art and I’d love to trapeze, too. If deschooling myself is all about doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do (and the gymnastics school doesn’t offer anything for adults) then I’m going to take a Trapeze class in Seattle. Actually- I want to drive the RV over and take every single class they offer for a week-long intensive, instead of driving back and forth every week. And I know I’m strong enough for this because I can hang by my toes from the Perfect Pullup Bar in my kitchen door frame. Actually- I can do a lot of tricks on the bar, but I want to fly through the air on a Trapeze and get tangled up in 30 feet of silk. My husband was supposed to build me a trapeze earlier in the summer and I’m pretty bitter that it hasn’t happened. So I won’t talk about that anymore.
(Honey, if you’re reading this, I’m bitter, and I’m complaining about it in public. But if you build my effing trapeze, I will delete it and write nice things instead.)
I also don’t think I’ve mentioned our RV here yet. We got a killer deal on a 36 foot RV. Even the repairs we’ve had to make still don’t override the bargain factor. We were planning to drive it down to the Rethinking Everything Conference in Dallas, Texas last month, but that was apparently not in the cards. We’re looking forward to traveling aimlessly all over the US, except that my teenagers have decided that THIS is the year they’ll try public school.

Here's the other half of the update on our family.  (sorry, I just needed to make a post here, and this qualifies)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sinful nature, I think not.

Inherently evil?
In the book “Give me Liberty” by Gerry Spence, which isn’t about parenting at all, it’s about freedom from the profit-driven clutches of corporations and governments, he says;

“Children, as persons, are entitled to the greatest respect. Children are given to us as free-flying souls, but then we clip their wings like we domesticate the wild mallard. Children should become the role-models for us, their parents, for they are coated with the spirit from which they came- out of the ether, clean, innocent, brimming with the delight of life, aware of the beauty of the simplest thing; a snail, a bud, a shadow in the garden. Children are the closest thing to angels.”
Small children ’s minds clearly live less “in their body” than adults. Adults are acutely aware of their own bodies and minds – analyzing its sensations, thoughts and feelings. Kids rarely think of such things. Have you ever heard a child ask “Why do I do that?” They think more about the next fun experience. Sure, some kids may have physical sensitivities to certain fabrics, sounds or foods, but they don’t THINK about it, they just seek comfort. They experience feelings, but they don’t over-analyze them. They just seek happiness. Duh.


Instead of teaching kids OUR world view, we need to allow them to see the world through the eyes they were born with, and listen intently to what they're telling us.

Some people would have you believe that kids are selfish, sinful or naturally bad, in need of ‘training” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. At their essence, they are creators. Kids are givers. When people see “bad” in children, it’s a gross and self-centered misinterpretation of the child’s actions and NOT a representation of the child’s inner self. Parenting from a position that believes children are inherently evil will NEVER help a child to be their best, EVER. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. These people never see the true soul of their own children because they allow a preconceived notion to cloud their vision. So their children grow up doubting their own inner goodness, free from the responsibility or benefits of peaceful or happy relations because they believe that at their core, that they’re flawed. YOU are not flawed at the core. No matter what your religion has told you. You are infinitely perfect and every experience, no matter what your analytical mind has labeled it, just IS, and isn’t bad or good, it just IS. My favorite part of the audio version of Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret is the sound of Lisa Nichols’ voice saying

“And your spirit is so big that it fills a room*”
(with a blissful giggle that brings out the irony in the idea that anyone could ever feel small or insignificant)

Life isn’t about forcing people to do what you want. It should be about fully experiencing (LIVING) every minute of whatever it means to you to be ALIVE, enjoying each experience and the fact that the people around you are also enjoying it. This includes your amazing children, experiencing them while allowing them to experience their own (paralell) reality.


I love how Maddy (7) asks so many questions. In 5 minutes she’s asked me a hundred. “Mom, what’s an errand?” I answered her, then she repeated it back to me in a question. “like if I said ‘I have to run an errand’ it means I need to go do something important somewhere else real quick?” and I confirmed her interpretation. I can’t imagine giving her a list of vocabulary words or asking her to write a sentence for every word on a list (which would be MY list, not hers) Talking, verbal communication, it’s one thing that makes us human, civilized. Why on earth are “schoolers” (not to be confused with scholars, whom I still respect) OK with the idea of interfering with the communication skills of a 7 yr old? How could anyone imagine that ANY list of words would ever meet my child’s need to understand the language in the world around her.

After our little conversation, she stews in her mind a bit, the wheels are turning and she asks me another random question “Did you and dad know each other when you were kids?” and a little later she says “I probably have to google this, but do you know if whales see the way people see?” I had no idea, but I made a mental note of the fact that she realizes the limitations of my knowledge and knows how to research) so we googled it. We never found the answer, because she got sidetracked by videos of whale songs.

Every question doesn’t need an answer. Sometimes questions just lead to more questions and it’s OK. Nothing in real life ever resembles an end-of-the-chapter test.

Birds fly, fish swim and humans learn. -John Holt

Her questioning takes a considerable amount of time every day. She usually hangs out with me in the evening when I’m cleaning the kitchen, grilling me on world history, US history, science, family history, word meanings and telling me all about her doll’s relationships, careers and lifestyles.

Last night, there was something stuck to the burner- I’d wiped it down earlier but I think I got something on it, so it was smoking up the kitchen and it smelled bad. I walk into the kitchen thinking “what the hell is wrong in here, yuck now I have to breathe this $#!+” but I didn’t say it because I was busy listening to her rattle on about something- a story about how our friend Nikki lost her first tooth (For the record, she bit into a taco shell when she was 7 . Nikkie & Maddy share a birthday, and she’s really fun, so it makes Maddy feel special to have her as a friend and Maddy wants to lose her tooth on a taco shell now, so we’re having tacos for dinner)

Anyway, so I keep it to myself- about the smoke- and she walks through the door right behind me. You’d think she just opened the door to the Emerald City of Oz and wasn’t sure if she wanted to go home or not. “MOM- there are a million fairies in the air,” she says, in a lowered voice, lest she break the spell. She points out the sun rays piercing through a thinner patch of smoke and suddenly she’s overcome, enchanted; she’s a fairy. Her arms are raised in bliss and her head is tilted up to the receive the light, and she’s slowly spinning and humming, like angels were singing to her in her head.

To her, the smoky kitchen is beautiful, an amazing thing of wonder. To me, she is the thing of wonder. She’s soaking up the wonder and feeding it right back to me. How can anyone think kids are bad? There’s no bliss quite like experiencing the world through the lens of a child.

*”We often get distracted with this thing called our body and our physical being. That just HOLDS your spirit. And your spirit is so big it fills a room. You are eternal life. You are God manifested in human form, made to perfection.”- Lisa Nichols, The Secret

Monday, September 13, 2010

She thinks I'm awesome :)

Whereby I rattle on about how awesome 2-yr-olds are (again)
Evelyn likes doing whatever I do. I love seeing myself through her eyes, as we discover her passions together. She can make the most mundane tasks seem like a grand occupation. There is a ritual to dish washing that apparently I’ve never examined deeply enough until now.


Terrible two's are a myth
It begins with verifying that there’s a towel to dry them with. That amount of forethought was the first thing that impressed me about her approach to the task. So we gathered our drying towel, and then cleared the counter. She looks forward to the “soapy water” part of the job, but she knows we need to start with the end in mind. I’m impressed that she’s mastered a life skill that I still find challenging – having a precise goal. And I’m supposed to be teaching her? What a backward philosophy.
Once the towel and counter are prepared, our real dialog begins. She wants to wash the dishes NOW. I want to clean the sink first. It just doesn’t seem right to wash dishes in a dirty sink. Someone dripped milk on the side, some ketchup, a smashed tomato, a piece of peach skin, spit out in disgust. I cleaned the sink while she was explaining to me how to proceed. “I have my sponge, you need to put warm water on it and squirt me some soap in the middle right there, give me soap mom I am ready now please ok mom”

Finally the sink was scrubbed down. I still needed to rinse, but I could do that while I’m getting her sponge wet. And I did- she didn’t catch me stalling because she was explaining to me which dish she was going to wash first, and teling me that she wouldn’t wash the “knifesis because they are sharp.” I sometimes wish I could record her all day long just to share the delicious sound of her voice with the less fortunate (you know, people who don’t have 2 yr olds in the house). When she says the word “are” and “sharp” she has a little Boston accent: “They aoaohhh shahhp.” I think I can safely split all 6 of my kids into 2 groups The ones that sound like they’re from New York when they’re two and the ones that sound like they’re from Boston.

Anyway- we continue that way, discussing very aspect of dish washing. from the selection of the next dish to be washed, all the way through determining how much soap should go on the sponge, to techniques to make your soap last longer. Y’know, because if you dip your sponge in the water it washes your soap away.

We washed a sinkful of dishes together, at one point she said “Mommy you are so good at this.” I said “thank you honey, you’re good at this, too. Are you having fun?” She said “yes, I’m so glad you’re having fun mommy” and then we discussed some other things we like to do together, like picking tomatoes in the garden, eating tomatoes in the garden, picking peppers in the garden and eating peppers in the garden, picking and eating grapes, picking flowers, saying hello to the chickens, folding laundry, brushing the dog… Being with her is so pure and natural.

She’s truly a gift in that she amplifies the beauty in everyday life. She’s like an enhancing lens, or some badass photoshop brush that just makes all the magic in the world stand out. AND- she thinks I’m awesome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Everyone is good at something

So the other day, Emilee (16) carries a very limp & teary-eyed Grace (4) into my bedroom where I’m working and says “Mom, Grace is sad.” So I stopped working and held her in my arms and asked her why she was sad. She explained, with Emilee’s help, how it bothers her that Maddy (7) always wins. She was so very sad about it, so we tried to help her think of things she’s good at, so she can beat Maddy. She was amused with our suggestions, but ultimately rejected each one, including “nose picking” and “being 4″ and “jumping over floor tiles” These are things we know she’s proud of.

In the end, she came up with her own ideas, “a race” and “tying people up” and “making homemade band aids.”

Madelyn wouldn’t even compete in the tying people up category, which made grace a winner by default. The look of joy & pride on Grace’s face when she beat Maddy at making homemade band-aids was priceless and I suspect Maddy let her win the race, when she realized what was going on.

Around here, we’re not much into competitive sports, where other people make up the rules. And we’re definitely not the types that wake up at the crack of dawn to drive the kids out to a field to play. I prefer that the kids engage in activities that encourage them to be their personal best, rather than focus on “beating others.”

In principle, I’d let them participate in group sports, but in realty, it hasn’t happened. Sign-up dates have often eluded us, as this information gets sent home with kids at school. I’ve often wondered why these groups (soccer clubs, little league, etc..) don’t have more informative websites. I don’t make much of an effort to find out about these things because I’m not interested in attending practice 2-3 times a week or sitting in the sun or wind at 8am on a Saturday while they play.

Yes, competition is a natural part of life. Yes, competition is healthy and normal. No, we don’t need to invent situations where kids can experience arbitrary competition. Life presents plenty of natural opportunities to experience competition, without expensive uniforms, ongoing repetitive “championship rounds” or anything like that. Rivals can (and should) be friends, always. There’s more to competition than warfare.

Arbitrary rules of competition set kids up to live by the other people’s definition of success, instead of creating their own happiness. This might work well for people who define success by keeping up with their neighbors, but around here, we have different expectations.

I expect my kids to excel exactly as much as they wish, at whatever they choose to be a worthy exploit. I expect that they are in tune with their own inner longings, and find it easy to decide what games they’ll compete in and whether or not they intend to win, or just want to play. I trust that the activities they choose and the decisions they’re making today are part of their ultimate identity, something I would never dream of influencing or “shaping,” to do so would be blasphemous.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interruptions fit for a rockstar

Last night my 2 yr old came over to me with a broom and a small chair. I remember seeing her approach out of the corner of my eye. She set up the chair to face me while I was cleaning the kitchen and handed me the broom. Seeing the broom in my own hand (because that’s how much I zone out when I’m cleaning) I leaned it into the corner because that’s where it goes and she SCREAMED loud enough to snap me out of my cleaning zone. I looked down to see that she was clearly very angry with me and I squatted down to her to find out why. “You ’sposed to Lzzy Hale from Halestorm‘tend the broom is a guitar and sing me ‘you are my sunshine” Boy was that a surprise. No one has ever ASKED me to pretend the broom was a guitar. It’s not even something I’ve ever done, I can air guitar without props. But I can deal with that, improv is an important life skill. So I picked up the broom as she took her position in the “audience,” I grabbed a pair of sunglasses from the top of the fridge and in my best air-guitar impression of Lzzy Hale, with my hair flying around everywhere, I sang her the song. By the end, we were both laughing so hard. I had tears in my eyes and she felt very special. What a wonderful gift that was, Kids ROCK.
And I can’t help but compare it to when my oldest was the same age. She wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while I cleaned because I thought “it was too hard to do both.” I’d trained her to stay away by yelling “OUT.” It breaks my heart now to think about those days. I’m so glad I’m who I am now, and I’m able to treasure the interruptions, and that I haven’t trained her to stop interrupting me.
Now, I need to work on that stage dive…

Unschooling

If you haven't heard of unschooling, it's awesome.  Here are some of the most recent posts from The Organized Unschooler that are sure to spark your interest:



Public School- Preparing kids for a life without privacy

An article at the privacy rights website Pogo Was Right (“U.S. Schools: Grooming Students for a Surveillance State,” August 28) argues that schools are “grooming youth to passively accept a surveillance state where they have no expectation of privacy anywhere.” Privacy violations include “surveilling students in their bedrooms via webcam … random drug or locker [...]
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Adler’s Defense of a General Education is Lost on Modern Readers

In order to fully understand what Mortimer Adler is talking about in his essay General Education vs Vocational Education, we must understand the historical and cultural context from which he is speaking. Modern readers who misunderstand this context are likely to misinterpret his intentions and thereby fail to see the logic behind his recommendations, which [...]
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Sponge, Computer or incomprehensible blob of amazingness?

Two metaphors that have evolved to reflect the workings of the human mind are “a child’s brain is like a sponge” and “the brain is like a computer.” Although well-intentioned, the limitations of these models have resulted in educational practices that fail to address the true nature of how children learn, and subsequently lend themselves [...]
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Write something, win something

The Unschooler’s Emporium is having a drawing for $50 worth of products from their site. They sell unschooling related Tshirts, paintings, books, eBooks, and other products made by unschoolers, for unschoolers. To enter the drawing, submit an original article, to be published on their blog, using one of the following topics: – What does Unschooling [...]
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A Valedictorian speaks out against schooling    

If you haven’t read Erica Goldson’s Valedictorian speech, go check it out.  Basically, she “calls out” the insane practice of institutionalized education, as she experienced it. SIDE NOTE- Kelly Hallordson, an unschooling mom and blogger, was able to sit down with Erica shortly after this speech hit the interwebs and recorded their conversation, at a [...]


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