Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas in Opryland

Here we are in front of a gigantic tree in Opry Mills Hotel. They have it decorated beautifully, we saw a water show done to music also.

There were many trees and decorations inside and out and a huge Nativity scene outside made out of ceramic, and so many lights...

There were so many people there that it made it a little too stuffy but it was worth going anyway.

New addition to our family

This is Caramel, she joined our family about 10 days ago. The kids just adore her, the dogs still aren't sure what it is. We introduce them as often as we can and they sniff her and lick her. We will not let them near her unless we are holding her. We are being careful because they get jealous.
She squeaks alot and her favorite food is celery.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Unschooling does not mean unparenting

I have seen this phrase more than I care to *I'm an unschooler not an unparent*

It bothers me on many levels mainly because it implies that unschoolers are unparenting, that couldn't be further from the truth. To truly unschool you have to parent differently than the main stream, many many public school kids are unparented because they drop the ball on the system.

Truthfully it's the parenting part of unschooling that is so challenging, I parent my ass off and don't like it implied otherwise. We are whole life unschoolers, radical if you will, I have no misgivings about how children learn naturally and in a rich, loving environment conducive to learning will learn everything they need when they need it. It's the parenting that I'm consumed with, trying to do it respectfully and mindfully. I don't care about math and science and any other subject because that is all part of everyday life. I care about the inter personal relationships, and learning how to get along in this world.

Friday, November 24, 2006

74 and Sunny

It's beautiful here in TN, the kids are having fun playing in the dirt.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What to do on a rainy day

Get wet of course! They were painting mud on their faces and running around doing an army scene. My other pics turned out blurry, it rained quite a bit today.
We just made peanut butter cookies and the house smells nice and the kids are full of smiles and praise. They said I'm the best cookie baker :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My own worst critic

Do you have high expectations that you will probably never live up to? Well I do... I know this is a challenge that I have always had, I don't know where it came from. I'm not really a perfectionist but how I want to be and how I am are two different things. People tell me that I'm too hard on myself and they don't see the issues that I see.

For example, my parenting skills, to outsiders I'm patient and kind, my friend thinks I beat myself up too much. Last night I lost it with Cassandra, I was just plain pissed off, then I felt terrible and starting criticizing myself for getting mad. Now she had been acting this way all day with several outbursts and it was 1:45 am and I couldn't take anymore. Does that make me a terrible mother, in my eyes it does. I notice a hormonal pattern because I just realized that I'm getting irritated and going off about everything all of a sudden. Gotta love those hormones, while it's a valid reason it's still no excuse.

I hate getting mad at my child and I hate yelling but sometimes I do rant and rave...

Since my goal is mindful, respectful parenting this really ticks me off when it happens. I'm not perfect so what is wrong with making a mistake? I am aware and I try to do better in the next moment and apologize if I'm way out of line.

At least my kids and husband don't share in my *terrible mother* mode, they think I'm a great mother. It's just in my own perception, I just need to get it out of my head.

I will continue to strive to do better and be proactive not reactive but hormonal tirades just take over my good sense sometimes.

We have 2 neighbor kids that always come over and last night the boy went home to eat and his sister stayed here. When he came back and knocked on the door she opened it and said *come on in to the fun place* she is about 4 1/2 and he is 7. So I guess I need to get over myself, that's my advice...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ok... I admit it

I am a person who likes things clean and free from clutter. Clutter bogs me down and weighs on me, it drives me nuts. Recently there were discussions on a couple unschooling groups I am on about clean houses, I didn't write in because I never seem to have a chance at the right time. I am apparantly on the other end, many people were talking about cleaning as it needed to be done but not worrying about it.

Someone wrote that they have sayings between friends like * if you don't clean for me I won't clean for you* or * If you want to see my house make an appointment but if you want to see me come anytime* Those are two I remember off the top of my head, I just giggled quietly...
I don't care how anyone else keeps their house but I seriously need to clean, not every day it does go in spurts.

I do the usual stuff every day but right now my house is a mess of course my friend doesn't believe me she thinks my house is never a mess
Well it's a mess to me, today we spent the day at the park so when I came home I did the dishes and laundry but that's all.

The bedrooms are a mess now I admit that lots of times I just pick up the kids rooms as I go and sometimes I ask them to pick up their rooms.
I let the mail pile up for a short while and stuff piles up then I have to declutter and get rid of it.

We have been playing lots of boardgames lately so those are out in the dining room along with papers, folders, books, crayons, legos, army men etc...

Jared always has something exploding, usually legos, they are everywhere :)

But... I need to get rid of the clutter, I'm not talking spotless just picked up and neat, well I do like to vacuum, I know I'm deranged, LOL!

Being an unschooling family of six plus two chocolate labs you can imagine that the house is nowhere near the way *I* would like it. I do try and keep it liveable for all of us though so it works.
I actually told my hsband the other day that if I could I would have the house not looked lived in, how crazy is that? I'm just compulsive seriously I want it to be warm and inviting but also clean and decluttered, I'm looking for the balance.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Star Wars

We have recently watched the original Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back and have been playing the lego Star Wars game on Game Cube. The kids just love it, they have been dressing up and acting out scenes, Jared is crazy about R2-D2, he has been building R2-D2 and pods and C-3PO with legos.

We haven't seen the newest Star Wars movies yet but we plan to. I think getting the original trilogy for Christmas would be nice and some action figures, Jared asked me if we could get an R2-D2. It's funny because when I was a kid that little robot was my favorite too :)


The last couple days we have been playing Clue, Cassie and Brenny are not reading yet but they wanted to play. I showed them how the cards match the rooms and weapons and suspects and they did really well. They are marking their own cards and recognizing the words on the sheet and matching them to the words on the cards. They are really getting the hang of it and doing quite well for just starting out.

Last week we were playing Rummy a lot and they did very well and they also wanted to keep score. This was new as I realized they weren't used to adding 2 and 3 digit numbers, I showed them how to line it up and carry over.

Tonight we just started a Monopoly game, we are taking a break from it but hope to finish before Jared starts throwing the pieces around.

So we have been playing lots of games lately and having a good time together.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I love this picture of Jared.

My intense little boy

My little Jared is really putting me through some moments of wonder. I can't find a word, he is so different and so intense and so smart and he gets frustrated so easy. When something doesn't go the way he wants he screams and throws things and you can't help him. He doesn't want help, he wants to do it himself, he wants it to go the way he expects it. For example, Legos, he builds neat things but he also gets so frustrated when they aren't right or a piece falls off, then he throws it across the room.

He recently started to write letters and if they aren't perfect he gets really mad, sometimes he wants me to show him how but usually he doesn't. He gets very intense and yells at us and calls us idiots... He yelled at the cashier in Kroger because he wanted 12 stickers and they gave him Halloween stickers and he wanted the regular ones, so they gave him 4 regular ones and he called them idiots. It doesn't sound that big of a deal after the fact, LOL!

There are so many examples that I could come up with if I think hard enough.
He is just intense about everything and I want to be here to help him through the frustrations.
He is so full of energy and life and learning so much at his young age I just want to help him learn how to deal with it.
He gets a lot of this from dh and he says you can't help him he has to figure it out himself :)

Friday, October 13, 2006

B-17 Bomber

The bomber was at Lebanon airport for the weekend. They actually took people up in in for a mere $359, you could also pay $10 and go inside it. We went inside and got some pictures, what a tight fit, it was a really neat experience. This actual plane was not in combat but it is the same as the ones that were. Kieran loves the history of the wars and military.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Respectful parenting

When I was growing up I was treated poorly, I was treated like a second class citizen and that my opinions didn't matter, I was verbally abused and hit. This treatment came mostly from a stepparent in my early teen years, what a time to be treated like shit.

When I was 14 I moved in with my dad and it took a long time for trust to be built up on both sides. One thing that my dad did for me was listen to me, he respected my opinion even when he didn't agree. I am very thankful that he did that, he still does, he is a public school teacher and he has never said one thing against homeschooling.

When I became a parent I really wanted to do things differently, I did not want to repeat the mistakes of my parents. I mean we all make mistakes but when we know better we do better.
I believe that respect is one of the most important things in a family, it goes both ways. Children that are treated with respect will learn how to be respectful. Of course this has to come from me first, as they grow and learn it will become part of them. Modeling and discussing are such important parts of parenting.

We do not have any rules to be broken or privileges to be taken away, we all live together and boy there is a whole lot to learn from that :)

This is no easy task, I spend a lot of time diffusing conflicts between the kids. Something that I repeat often is *treat each other the way you want to be treated*

I want them to show respect and be respected, we have to learn how to get along and compromise and be flexible. It is also so important to think for yourself and form an opinion and problem solve, I want my kids to have these qualities.

Of course what I want really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things they have to want it for themselves.

I am hoping to model positive behaviors and qualities for them, of course I'm far from perfect, it seems they pick up on my negative qualities too

Radical...positive or negative?

In the past couple of years I have been referring to myself as a *radical unschooler* from my understanding this term was coined to show that there are *academic only unschoolers* and *whole life unschoolers*. I really don't know how you can trust in the philosophy of natural learning and then limit everything else your child does. I firmly believe in modeling and in living by principles. We don't separate learning from life, it is what it is, we live, we learn, unschooling makes perfect sense. I have pretty strong objections to compulsary schooling but that is another topic.

I have pretty much always been an attachment parent and an unschooler before I knew that the terms existed. Back in PA I had a friend who was a relaxed homeschooler and she always introduced me to other homeschoolers as a radical unschooler. I usually just smiled and didn't think much of it but I did tell her that I never thought of myself as a radical anything.

In my quest to find other unschoolers I do use the term radical unschooler because I have found that people will use the term unschooling very loosely. I also really don't care for labels much except in the case for furthering my quest or learning about a particular thing. I would really call what we do *living* but doesn't everyone live? So I guess when talking with homeschoolers or people in general I will use certain labels to help them understand the idea. Being on all of these yahoo lists I have seen the importance of certain terms and phrases. I guess that many of my parenting and schooling philosophy could be coined *radical* as in *radically different from the mainstream*
I am pretty much the opposite of mainstream schooling and parenting so if that is *radical* then so be it.

I am not a fanatic or an extremist and I believe that those are pretty negative terms but radical can be a positive thing. I don't go around telling strangers that we are radical unschoolers because they wouldn't have a clue as to what I'm talking about. On the interenet I do use the term and I believe it helps to see where I'm coming from.

I am always learning, changing and growing and it is for the better. I have such a long way to go in my parenting, I am my own worst critic and my expectations really are too high, but it keeps me moving forward.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Where to begin

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the stuff you want to do that you don't know where to start?
We moved into this house in April and we are remodeling it, it's come a long way but there is so much left to do before it is done.

Jason is working hard at getting the house fixed and I have accomplished a lot of unpacking.
One problem is that we have too much stuff, we got rid of a ton before we left PA and I have been giving things to the goodwill lately. We had a basement in our old house so all the big toys and hockey table and foosball table and race tracks have no where to go here. No garage no basement, we do have an attic and have put stuff up there and we also still have things in storage.

We need to downsize some more and I just don't know where to begin, the kids don't want to get rid of any more toys. I also have storge issues and we are in need of shelves and places to put stuff.
I have a lot of the kids resources out but I also have a lot in boxes in my closet. I need ideas of how to store the stuff but have it accessable (that word doesn't look right)
We keep supplies in the hutch in the dining room, the cupboards are full of books ,paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, pens & pencils.

I am the type of person who hates clutter and I like to be able to put it away or at least hide it :)

So it's hard to keep things clean and put away when there is no where to put it. I did get the kids rooms organized pretty well with bins to put the toys in and shelves for the books. I know it's a process that takes time, moving was a huge thing for us and we were in limbo for about a year.

It's time to settle in a new state, in a new house, make new memories and learn as we go.

Finding time

I haven't figured out how to fit in time for this blog. I really want to do this but it's been 2 weeks since I wrote anything. I am new to writing down my thoughts and I realize that they will be read by people I don't know.

I started this so that I could write about my kids and our interests and ideas, I just need a push to actually get my thoughts typed out.

Right now Kieran, Brenny and Cassie are with my dh and some friends at a Nashville Sounds game. Jared is home with me because he is pretty wild so we are waiting until next year to take him to a game. He is watching Bob the Builder so I actually have a few moments on the computer.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy kids

Opreyland Hotel July 23, 2006 Posted by Picasa


Imagination is abound in my house... The kids are constantly playing and acting and making things up. My oldest son has been completely into all things military for quite some time now and it has rubbed off a bit on the others. They play army and make up battleplans and fight the Germans, it's quite amusing. One day I heard them yell *We can't get to the Germans because the dog is in the way*

Someone is always getting shot or something is getting blown up. They are quite the little actors.

My youngest Jared acts out his favorite video game Ratchet and Clank, he does this throughout the house and every where we go. He is quite the active one in the stores, rolling around on the floor and acting.

Right now Brennan is dressed up as a hunter and he has built a tent in Cassie's bedroom. Kieran is always inventing new weapons. Cassie is my princess who loves to dress up pretty but she also gets down and dirty with the boys.

Every day is a new beginning for their playing, they feed off each other or something they read about or saw on TV.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

tv, video games, limitations, rules...

I asked a fellow blogger where to begin since I'm new at this and she said start where you are now. So today on a yahoo group I belong to there were discussions of limiting tv and video games. I always have a hard time with these posts because these things have never been limited in our house and are not an issue. Sure my kids watch tv and play video games whenever they want, they also do lots of other things that interest them. I firmly believe that if these things were limited or used as a reward or punishment then there would be some sort of power given to them. As it is they hold no power and they are just another tool or resource, they are also a form of entertainment and learning.

What really got me was how the parent talked about how the kids have to explicity behave and clean up before they can play or watch. If they act up they can't play and get grounded from it, HUH!!!!!

I always wonder how these kids feel when their parents put such limits on them. I wonder if the husband told the wife that since she didn't do the dishes when he wanted that she had to go to bed early I don't know, it's all stupid to me. Where is the respect in these homes, where is the joy of learning, where is the compatibility, where is the real living?

More to come on this subject but right now my kids are calling...