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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Post

Yesterday we had a fieldtrip to Pioneer Day with CHEA. And on the way there, Samantha and I were feeling a little festive. Since I was feeling a little down that our "newest family member" has not yet made their appearance in our lives-yes, I know, still soon-I thought maybe we could concentrate on positives and play the Thankful Game. So we did. Samantha came up with some good ones and so did I. Some of them were funny. And some of them were sad to think that others do not have. Here goes:

I will begin with the standard and end with some of the things we do not think about day to day.

I am thankful for my family.

For my Husband, who is a pretty awesome guy, not always perfect, but a pretty awesome guy. He works hard for us. And he supports what I do. He lets me get away with acting like a complete and total hippy. And listens to me yap away about my crazy theories. Although he sometimes likes to act tough, he has so many soft spots inside that he might fall over if you touch him. Eight years together and it seems like the blink of an eye. And each and every day that I wake up next to him I KNOW that we are together for a reason, for something bigger than us.

I am Thankful for my Daughter who is the PERFECT match for me. God could not have matched me with a better buddy than her. (That's how I know my next will be the complete opposite-to challenge me. ;) I am Thankful she is here and she is alive. I am Thankful that I am the first one to see her face each morning and I am the last one to see her face at night. I am Thankful that I get to do her hair and dress her up in cute clothes. And that I get to do all the fun things that Mommies dream about doing with their daughters. I am Thankful that she loves to read together at night-and cuddle. (I love to cuddle.) I am thankful that she has such a big heart. And that she is so easy going, most of the time. I am Thankful for our quiet days at home together or playing games with her inside the car. I love her so much and I can't imagine life without my oldest and only living child.

I am Thankful for my extended family. We have so much family, so much family that we could probably spare some. Ha Ha. Not to mention they are pretty awesome too. There are so many of them I could not describe each one, but they know who they are.

I am Thankful to have friends, people I can turn to and talk to. People who tell me about their day too. What a lonely life it would be without friends. 

I am Thankful for mentors. Yes,  I still have mentors. I have some people I view as both a friend and a mentor, someone special that God sends you to show you what is next in Life or give you advice on how to deal with the Here and Now.

I am Thankful for our house. I am thankful that God has given us a place to live and to call ours. I am Thankful that is has 3 bedrooms. And heat and air. And I am doubly Thankful that it has emergency heat. Most of America may have central A/C, but many do not have a backup system, so we are very Blessed to have discovered that last winter when our unit kept freezing over. And I am thankful that this place still looks almost new-without costing us much more than our rent did!

I am Thankful we have a garage downstairs in which I park the car. And in that car is a full tank of gas so that I can go to the store to get groceries and take S downtown for special outings without it taking a whole day's work. And I am Thankful that it runs. I am Thankful that it has only had to be fixed a handful of times in the years we have owned it. And that, being it is my first car, I have not wrecked it. 

I am also Thankful for my kitchen. And Thankful for my food, that I can go to the grocery store when I need to grab something and not think twice. I am Thankful I can feed my family healthy, even if it means sacrificing in other areas such as snack foods. I am Thankful that sometimes we have leftovers and sometimes we have seconds. And even if we don't get either, we always get full. I am also Thankful that I have a sink that lets out drinkable water. And cups to put the water in. So that we will never be thirsty in this house.

I am Thankful that my Husband has a good job to pay for the things I listed above. And that (at least 75% of the time he enjoys what he does). I am Thankful that they treat them well. And they let him drive his van home. I am Thankful that he has a nice jacket they supplied him with to keep him warm and that we were able to buy him nice work gloves and a face mask to keep the wind from stinging him in the Winter.

I am Thankful that both financial and family situations allow for me to stay home. It is well worth the monetary sacrifice for us. I am Thankful I get to spend my time cooking, cleaning, teaching, and volunteering. I am Thankful we can schedule our days pretty much how we want them and that I have time to get things done. And even time to sit down and breath at night.

I am Thankful that I have the wonderful opportunity to Homeschool my child-and any future children, to teach her and be taught BY her. To be able to drag through the mornings with her and spend the afternoons either lounging in our night clothes reading books until it is time to start dinner, going outside to study the bugs on the ground, following the ants back to their hill, or going on a special outing like our recent trip downtown to the art district. I feel so Blessed to have those extra hours with her in the day. And so very happy that I discovered this amazing form of "school" so early on, when she was still just a baby.

I am Thankful for our Homeschool Support Group and the friends we have made through it. I am Thankful that my Baby, in her loneliest time, of feeling like she was the ONLY Homeschooler in the  WHOLE world, was able to turn to the group, do some fun things she wouldn't have the chance to otherwise (field day, holiday parties, Geography Fairs), and make some friends at the same time. Now she never feels alone.

I am Thankful that I have the time and ability to help out where I can. I am Thankful that God showed me my callings and purposes early on. I am thankful that He uses me for something greater than just Me.

I am Thankful I can do many things that sometimes people can't do, like walk, and talk, and see, and hear without struggling to. And I am very Thankful for my health.

I am Thankful for camping with my family-that we all really enjoy being outdoors. I am thankful for Reading and for Writing-Blogging. I am thankful to have things that I am good at and I truly enjoy doing.

I am Thankful for many random, recent things. I am Thankful that we were able to buy S a new bed. I am Thankful that my A/C is not broken like we thought it might be. I am Thankful that Southern Adventist University offers so many affordable classes. And that next semester S is going to learn how to swim and continue her gymnastics. I am Thankful that S is reading so much, so fast! I am Thankful that we were able to buy Christmas gifts. I am Thankful that on Thanksgiving I will get to see some of my family. And Friday I will get to wonder the malls in Atlanta just for the fun of it. And that the Sunday after Thanksgiving I will be getting a Christmas tree, decorating it with my family, and making homemade hot chocolate to drink while we do it. So many small things, that make me think in the back of my head, "Wow. I am Greatful."

These are the things that God has not chosen for me to struggle with (yet), but maybe one day he will. Among these things that I am Thankful for there are other things that I have had to learn to see the good in and be Thankful for. "And we know for those who Love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 Like my Lucy, whom I am thankful for. She really changed my life, but sometimes I feel unthankful that she never saw this Earth. Or like our inability to have another Baby thus far. Sometimes I feel unthankful, but I know, one day, I will see the good in it all.

Call to Action: I feel like if we are thankful, and I mean truly Thankful for the things we have, we will do something about the ones who don't have it. How can we not? If we feel passionate about our food. If we really think, "I love eating. I literally can't live without it. I am SO Thankful to have food, good food." How can we sit back and let somebody else starve? It can be as simple as bringing some canned foods to a pantry somewhere or as complicated as starting up a new charity that takes up food donations and ships them across the World. If we are passionate about being warm, we can hand out blankets to those who need them. If we are passionate that we have Life, then help to save a life. I love the song, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners," because in it he says, "Break our hearts for what breaks yours." And I think that is what He does. He breaks our hearts for what breaks his, from abuse to poverty. I am Thankful for that too, for Him Breaking our Hearts. I used to think that God only sent us down her to have one Passion to focus on and the rest was left to someone else who has a passion for it. But I realize that, while we may have one passion that we really focus on, we can STILL do other things. We can spend one evening a year cooking meals for others if we feel that is what we need to do. We can keep a pack of waters in the back of our car to give to the guy at the exit with the sign in his hand or to the family who is waiting outside for their car to be towed. We can pick someone up when their car breaks down. After all, aren't we Thankful our car isn't broken down?...Something to think about.

I told S to think about what makes her the most sad and decide what she can do about it. I want her to start taking action instead of dawdling beside me as I do what I am passionate about. She is 6 years old. She can do more than pray beside me now. She is going to give it some thought and we will see.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Samantha is on a new diet!

It is called the "All Book" diet. That girl is tearing it up! It is so awesome watching her go at it! All she has done lately is read. Of course we still read together too...All. The. Time! On our home days we just sit on the couch or the bed and cuddle and read for hours after she wakes up. Sometimes we forget about lunch. My throat gets sore from all the reading and all the effort she puts in on the chapters she reads makes her tired, so she has gone back to napping.

It all started with the Samantha American Girl books that I bought her last Christmas. 10 months went by and we read one of the books, "Meet Samantha." Samantha talked about American Girls and how much she loved it, but she didn't know a whole lot about it. Then one day....We read the rest of the 5 books in week and a half. Of course each book is only like 75 pages, medium sized print, and some pages have pictures. I was about to pull out one of the story collections I had put back for Christmas so that she would have something to read, but then she began to beg for the Samantha Mystery book I had bought her for Christmas last year. We finished a 200 page, small print book in two days. And when I say we, I mean we took turns reading! And she did amazing for a 9 and up book! She has been reading anything and everything she could get her hands on.

We tried to go to the library last week to satiate her thirst, but THEY WERE CLOSED! So we made the trip today, on our usual day-today, and she was more excited than I have ever seen her about a trip to the library. She went straight to the computer and began typing-CORRECTLY! She had her hand placement perfect. And when I asked her if she wanted to start a typing program all she could say was, "YES! YES!" She looked up "Animals" and she we talked about the difference between non-fiction and fiction again. And used the decimal system to find the books. She picked out several, but this time showed a lot of progress because she can read most of the titles and the back description now. So she picked out only the ones she KNEW she wanted to read. Afterward, we headed for the American Girl section and picked up the next Samantha mystery book, "The Stolen Sapphire." Wonder if she will race through it in 2 days also! The last thing she picked out was a Frozen novel version of the movie. I explained to her that we already had more than we would finish in two week-being that Thanksgiving is coming up, so we needed to focus on one at a time. Then she volunteered to start reading it to herself "in her head" before she went to sleep last night. Works for me! My throat needs a break, but I do NOT want to discourage her.

I should have known I would have a reader on my hands. We have been reading to her since before she was born and anytime I get a moment to myself I am either writing or reading. Actions speak volumes about what we value. We have been making weekly/biweekly trips for years and she has always enjoyed getting 40-50 books each visit. (However, this time she only checked out 25 because they are more difficult reads.)

But there were discouraging times where I wasn't sure. She sometimes opted out of visiting the library. And there were days, back when we "officially" started homeschooling that Samantha would whine when we read. I was afraid I had destroyed her love forever. I'm sure it doesn't help lately when she wants to practice reading super late at night and I hurry her along. Yea. We all have faults. And while she is most active at night, I am ready to wind down around 9 lately. But she keeps pushing through and every night it seems lately, as I read to her every night, she is following along to herself and she will suddenly pick up where we are and begin going.

Reading on Her Own at my Brother's School

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Things Homeschooled Children Have to Put Up With

Just a little humor for the day.

As my daughter lay in bed last night with a nasty cough, I rubbed my newest most improved oil concoction on her and asked what she would like to do tomorrow, to which she replied a coughy reply, "Some *cough* thing *cough cough* in bed *cough cough cough*.". Then I realized how unfortunate home schools are because they get no sick days. I hear a lot about how lucky homeschoolers are, how many perks they have, and they really have quite a few-starting at the best time for them, wearing their pajamas to "school," ending early (sometimes), being able to go out and do things during the day when it isn't crowded...but then there are those things that poor unfortunate homeschoolers have to put up with. It is just part of the deal.

#1 No sick days. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Not in this house. "What's that? You're sick? Sure. We can chill in bed all day, but we need to read or play our newest math board game. Well, maybe dice game so you don't throw up all over it."

#2 Breaks are shorter. I have yet to meet a family that didn't say something like "Well, we aren't quite done with the school year yet. I know it is almost June. Public schools are out and we are winding down most of our school year activities, but there is still stuff left to be done. We will probably work until July and start back up in August." For our family, even though we UNradically homeschool, true breaks don't actually exist. No No. Our household is too easy going on a day to day basis. There is no "spending 5 weeks straight sleeping until 2 o'clock and watching TV until bedtime." Sure, there is lots of play time. When schools are on break and I have my little brother, I love nothing more than to see S play the entire day away, creating castles and making up rules to games together, but there I am noting, everything I see as a "learning experience." Ha Ha Ha. I have tricked her. She thinks she is on "break" because the days look different, but she isn't!

#3 All work is homework. That's right. We may not traditionally school, but the poor girl can never leave education behind at school. School starts when her eyes open and ends when her eyes close for the night. Whether it is a project we are working on, a new art technique, or even a math computer game we found. Learning. All. The. Time.

#4 Mom Freak Outs I don't care how you homeschool, whether you unschool or do school in a box. At some point, Mom always freaks out. I have never met a homeschool family who has never experienced that time of panic. Mom starts thinking of how much time has passed and wonders how much have you really learned?! Oh no! Or maybe December is approaching and you are two chapters behind. Moms usually freak out a few times a year, generally as the end of the semester approaches. And when Mom starts freaking out, the work gets piled on, and it just keeps coming, sometimes through the holidays...And nobody rests until she does.

#5 Going EVERYWHERE with Mom. I see this as a blessing and a curse. You learn a lot running errands, at least S does. She stays super involved. She likes to fill out deposit slips and slide the debit card. She has made friends with many adults in the community and enjoys talking to them. She tells them about herself and they tell her about them and teach her things about their job. She knows how to purchase meat from the local farm. Or how to barter at the Farmer's Market. BUT some days it gets old to her and repetitive. I'm not going  to lie and pretend it is always fun. Some days we are hurried and she doesn't get to slide the card. I forget. And some days even I wish I could just leave her home! (I'm sure she feels the same.) So okay. I will admit. I think the core of this is, on occasion, we would both really like a break. So on those days we usually go to a friends house and she just plays with the kids while Mommy has some adult time.

Thus is the life of a homeschooler, but it is not so bad. Even if you ask DD about all the things she has to put up with, mostly "Freak Out Mode Mom," she would say she still wouldn't have it another way. And neither would I.