Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I just needed somewhere to get excited.

Just gotta have somewhere to ramble on about our exciting news because I know after I was so back and forth last time nobody really wants to hear me go on. So here it is.

DH and I began "Trying to Conceive" in July 2012 when we closed on our house. We tried for over a year and got discouraged. (Also, I was very back and forth-although we never stopped trying-about how we were going to afford a midwife for a homebirth and if I wanted Samantha to be an only...) So we just let go and didn't really do anything to prevent pregnancy or track fertile days, except now and then we would not do anything around ovulation if I knew it was coming up. I took down the "baby room" and we recently turned it into an office. One thing I couldn't do, however, was give up some of my best baby items that I had been collecting over the months when we were TTC. So I bought a giant grey Rubbermaid bin and I stored it all in the garage. It kinda haunted me to be honest. And seeing toddlers depresses me because I miss those days more than anything. I just want so badly to experience raising a child again. All of it. Planning, Babyhood, Toddlerhood, preschool. And although most of my friends at this point are ready to leave the baby stage, I have been out of it for awhile and want to go back.

And even though I know it is probably going to take a lot of time and a lot of patience to try again, the last few weeks I have been feeling like we should do it anyway. So I talked to J. At first he freaked. He got those bug eyes, so wide I could see them in the dark as we were driving down the road. DD in the back, humming, like she didn't hear a thing, "You can't put somebody on the spot like that! That came out of left field! We are in no position to actually plan for that right now..." (Apparently he figured that not "trying" would mean it would never happen, which has been true thus far I guess...It was an awkward night. He kept saying that he wanted to say yes because that is what I wanted, but he wasn't sure what he wanted, and it wouldn't be fair for him to say yes and not really want another baby. Fair enough....But I was still sad.

The next morning Samantha and I had a lovely day together at a local art gallery downtown and then to get ice cream after. I basked in the fun that I was having with my only and last child. Afterward I drove her to a friend's to spend the night and DH and I went on a date and discussed it. He said he realized after I went to bed the night before that he actually would really like to be a Dad again. (Ha Ha. This is beginning to sound familiar.) He is just scared of the disappointment and of me getting depressed again. But he'd like the chance to experience a baby without being in school or work 70 hours a week. We both agreed S would be a tremendous help because she would be so much older. So it was decided. (Of course not without trying to get me to tell him he can get an XBox One. ;)

We discussed getting a doula who will advocate for me and encourage/help with breast feeding and cloth diapering and then having a water birth at a birthing center instead. It is cost effective and the only thing you are missing is being at home. But I will still have DD in the room and get that natural birth experience. I'd prefer being at home, but don't want to put our family in a bind when we could use that much money to buy a car or something we REALLY need.

And as far as my worries about DD being an only, I think her age will be good. It is hard to explain, but I do.

So DH bought me some oils that help balance hormones and prevent inflammation of scarring to help with implantation. Fingers Crossed.

And I have lots of the stuff that I need. I have all the breastfeeding supplies-pump, washable pads, homemade nipple cream and diapering supplies I need-tons of cloth diapers, inserts, disposable liners, reusable wipes. A sling-Moby wrap! I have a pregnancy pillow and Boppy. Toys. I even have some old Baby CDs and Books that I loved when S was little. We have a crib, but we will be co-sleeping so no need to set up a crib or bedding, so we may not set up a room for awhile. We are opting out of pacifiers and bottles-unless she is with a sitter. And we are going to use our own homemade lotions and such. All I'm missing is the co-sleeper and clothes!

I'm excited, but nervous. Going to be honest here. I'm nervous it will hurt without an epidural. That I will hemmorhage again. And most selfishly, that I won't be in my size 2 jeans anymore, that my stretch marks will become prominent again, and that I will wear maternity pants the rest of my life hoping to get back into my old clothes, which mostly upsets me because I just stocked up on some (oiginially) very expensive clothes for cheap at yardsales and they are SUPER CUTE!

But all in all I most nervous that it just won't happen at all. We spent dinnertime tonight picking names and laughing about some silly ones. We told S how we chose her name. And just had a good time, but part of me could not bring myself to think of any names-only to listen. I don't want to pick names. I dont want to set a room up. Or buy things at yardsales. I don't want to get attached to the idea again, but I'm afraid I already have.

So these are the ups and downs. This isn't the beginning and I'm sure it isn't the end. But that's life. And I am always asking for trouble.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I have this insanely crazy story to share. You will not believe it...

I was at the store today when I met this older woman who berated me for not being in school today. (What can I say, I still look 15.) I explained to her that I had graduated 5 years ago and told her that I was a Stay at Home Mom.

"A Stay at Home Mom," she asked, "how do you socialize if you aren't at work?"

I explained to her that I have a Husband, family, and a group of friends I see regularly, some that I met when I was younger, some that I meet through the groups we join as homeschoolers or volunteering and I also meet people daily at at the store, like her. That we have become good acquaintances with the librarians and the people at the Farmer's Market too. I went on to say that I have met many interesting, different people, and that I think it is a breath of fresh air to meet so many new people regularly.

Still, she insisted that I can't have an adequate social life unless I worked. So we agreed to disagree.

And the conversation continued. Finally it hit her that I had said "Homeschool Groups" so she asked me, "You homeschool? Who taught you how to do that? Do you really think you are qualified to teach your child?"

"Well," I explained, "When I want to learn about something that applies to me, I research it in depth. I don't stop until I have had enough. I spent 3 years researching homeschool styles and looking up advice before we started. And I still read and learn about it all the time. I have researched curriculum. I have found groups in our area..." "Poppycock! You need a teacher! You should not be homeschooling your child unless someone has taught you how to. You can't possibly know everything you need to know-" "That is true," I agreed, "But that is the great thing about continually learning. I am always finding new ideas and new ways to do things that work better for us, just like they do in the workplace. My mind is always working, even if I don't have a boss over me to teach me or tell me what I need to learn."

Still, she disagreed. And the conversation moved forward.

"But don't you feel like you are not doing your part in society-without a job? You are snubbing your community by refusing to send your child to school and get a productive job. It is good enough for the other children, so it should be good enough for yours."  Frustrated at this point, I explained to her all that we give back to the community-without pay. As if raising the next generation is not enough to contribute...We volunteer regularly at a Pregnancy Center. Nothing gives more to this Community/World than a new life does. We have started volunteering at a local school. We shop locally. We recycle locally. We study our community's rich History. We live and breathe Community. We live for Local Relationships.

But again, she did not agree.

She told me that Taco Bell was hiring, and no matter how much more productive I think I can be from home, that I need to have a job. That is just how it is. That is the only way for me to socialize, to learn, and become a productive member of society.

I was appalled. In all of my...4, almost 5 years since becoming an adult-I had never been treated like this before.

Sounds absurd, doesn't it? That somebody would say, as adults, we can only socialize in the workplace? That we would only further our learning and be productive when given external motivations such as pay raises and promotions. That we are not productive unless we are doing what society demands of us.

Then why is it okay to say and think these things of children? Why is it okay to say that the only way that they will socialize is inside the walls of a school? Why is it okay to say that the only way they will learn is if they are externally motivated by gold starts and good grades?

Why is that okay?

We need to quit looking at ourselves as superior to our children, like we don't need what they need. My daughter and I, aside from age, are one in the same. We both have needs for food and for sleep. We crave love and attention. We thirst for knowledge of the World. And we find it. We find all those things. We eat. We sleep. We love one another. And we find ways to learn. We are there to walk with our children like Jesus walks with us. We are there to guide them, but give them freewill, like God gives us. We are the "in between," and we are here to set the example, not to dictate. We are the same. So why does one need what the other does not?

Disclaimer: I hope that it was obvious to everyone that I made this story up for the purpose of this post. For people to read and see how absurd it is for somebody to be so closed minded to something so normal and natural, staying home with your kids. As adults, nobody makes a big fuss over our social lives or how much we are learning or if we are doing enough with our day. We just are. We do. We live.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Imperfections of Homeschooling

Oh my Goodness, I could sit and read those Ryan Gossling Homeschool Memes all day long!!! They are so funny. I find humor in them because it is such the life I live as a Homeschool Mom. And my poor Husband, who puts up with it always smiles and allows it to happen.

These are so funny because they are true imperfections of homeschool. Some days there are half sewn dolls, Lego's, and paper projects all over the table. (Even though S has her own table!) Some days we haven't even gotten dressed by time J gets home! Maybe S didn't wake up until 10 and we are so engrossed in a project, that we don't even stop to brush our hair. And when J gets home, sometimes it has been all day and I haven't had any adult interaction except phone calls from him so he listens to me go on and on and on about this new game I bought and everything it will teach...FOR HOURS. As a Homeschool Mom, I see the education in everything and yes, Little House totally counts as an entire History curriculum. Maybe not 3 years in a row, but to each their own. He He. Not to mention that I'm all about "modeling." Reading a book all day totally counts, even if all S did was play all day-which is, by the way, totally educational also. There are weeks we spend one good day doing tons of reading, lots of experiments. And then the rest of the week we are here and there and seeing friends and going to the library-totally counts as a field trip. Or we might spend the entire day sleeping or cuddled in the featherbed and playing with toys together. Oh, and I hope my neighbors would understand if S were outside with barefoot during winter in the middle of the day with a BB Gun and paintballs. And if I hear one more person ask S why she isn't in school, I may just take a page out of Gossling's book and ask them why THEY aren't! It isn't quite as panadamonious as it may sound, but it is an adventure. And not everything is perfect. I wouldn't find humor in it if S weren't learning and progressing at the rate she is. But there is value in all we do and I see the benefits of allowing that to happen daily. Some days we just need LOTS of rest. Some days we need lots of play. Others reading. Or the total obsession with a new project, even if it means wreaking of cupcake mold and sweating like a pig when "the principle" gets home. I'm sure he won't fire me. ;)

I'm very thankful for a Husband who WOULD sell the house and move into the woods and make soap with me. (In fact, we have discussed it.) I'm thankful for a Husband who listens to my raving about Smath and Right Start or the benefits of unschooling, even if he picks at me from time to time. I am thankful for a Husband who laughs when the table is covered in glitter, because guess what, today the glitter zoo WAS more important than math. It's okay to eat standing up or on the couch, as long as we are together as a family. I am thankful for a Husband who doesn't feel the need to live in society's mold when we don't fit it. And most importantly I am happy to have a Husband who supports every crazy idea and pholosophy I spit out. And then just nods and agrees when I change my mind and say that "I don't know what I was thinking last year when I said, ____." Thank God for Husbands like that.

People are so disgusted when we bring home things like this. Thus is the life...

And My Husband's Sarcasm

Honestly, knowing my neighbors, they would call DFACS.

When does the table NOT look like this?

Um Yea. I feel so accomplished. 

I'm glad you see it my way. 

I'm totally sure Hubby feels this way as I poor over educational materials with my geek glasses on wearing his black Gears of War robe. 

Okay. Maybe not Pop Tarts...Or Sponge Bob. But peanuts and Martha Speaks. ;) Modeling is everything. 

Of course you do, Jessie, because I talk about it each and every day of the year. 

Well...It's True.

Sooo...It's been a week, and let me just say that having a 6-year-old is SOOO COOL!

They catch on to things quicker and reason better. I can't tell you how many times I felt like a failure as a homeschool Mom for NOT making Samantha practice her math facts-Sad, I know. I felt like I was being lazy. Like I need to MAKE her practice these vital facts! (No seriously, you do need to know them if you want to do ANY higher maths with ease. Including things as simple as multiplying. I know that, but I also know you don't need to learn them as early as people expect kids to learn them.) Welp, NO MORE! I do not feel that way. I was assuaged, as usual, by watching
...and waiting. I resisted the urge and only gabe her somethjng to practice if she asked. But I guess it was too sporadic and really didnt help. But this week we played a game with a new card deck we bought by Right Start Math. One of the games is called Go To The Dump, like Go Fish, but you are trying to get sums of 10. (Or whatever other math fact you choose.) Four games in and she knows her 10 facts like the back of her hand. 1s are easy. She knows 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s. We still have 6, 7, 8, 9 left, but at this pace I have no worries. She is enjoying it. (That's rare for math, so I guess Right Start games are for us.) It is a part of a curriculum, but we will not use it as a curriculum. We will use it when we feel like it-IF we feel like it. Although, this week has centered around just that.

Coming Up....Friday we are trekking to the Old Stone Church, a local museum (very small) of a place that was used as a hospital during the Civil War. Right next door they have built a playground and picnic area and that is where you will find us afterward. May bring the hammocks, and definitely the Marley book. We have Homeschool Day at McKay, a CHEA Playdate-a few actually, a trip to go Apple Picking, a camping trip, and a Nature Club meeting on the Biology Trails at SAU. THEN....drum roll, please, THE HOLIDAYS!!!! Ah. The holidays. One word. Baking. Loys of fractions! I can smell it now. This year will be pumpkin cookies, pumpkin Play Doh, apple cobbler....and not sure what else apple. J is the only one who eats apples, so we sha'll see. I'm just happy for cool weather, but still warm enough to allow for hiking, rock climbing, possibly camping. And then soon our house will smell like a Christmas tree. Got most of my shopping done, but still a fun season.

We recently switched gears to dog books and dog training and soon we'll wrap up the Civil War and move on until she shows interest again. (I'm sure she will since we live in the heart of that History.) We'll probably continue to focus more on You Tube video making and editing. And then gear up for learning about Egypt (for the Geography Fair) in January when it is too cold to venture outdoors too much.

So much to do, but pretty much just wanted to say that having a 6 year old is awesome because it comes with all the fun silliness and talkativeness of a 5-year-old, but a better and easier grasp on things.

Here are some pictures of my SUPER AWESOME 6 year old! Tried to post some that I didn't put on FB. :)

My Artist