October 30, 2008

Even the Elephant are turning

So, what do you do when even your mascot crosses the isle?! Perhaps they'll start robo-calling zoos, now?

Yes, posting this was absolutely necessary!! If for no other reason then my own amusement, lol :-P

Hey, I've had a really, Really, REALLY bad day ... this helped!! haha.

October 29, 2008

Rekindling an Old Flame

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom ~Albert Einstein

We're an unschooling family. I used to just love talking about this lifestyle. I was filled with so much enthusiasm and passion, and I just wanted to shout it from the rooftops! But, not lately. I've gotten so used to *not* talking about it. Tired of the condescending looks that just dripped with judgement, I suppose. I can only take so many of those encounters before I retreat a little bit.

I've also had sporadic moments here and there where I've really struggled with our decision to unschool. Even with our decision to homeschool, period. It's not easy... stepping outside of "mainstream" and forging our own path. Especially where our children are concerned. It can kick up many moments of doubt and insecurity. During those times, it's especially difficult to find yourself in a situation where you being looked at as though you've sprouted an extra head. You're already feeling insecure enough all on your own, you certainly don't need judgement that confirms all of your worst fears.

So, I've lost the enthusiasm and passion that I once felt so strongly. I still entirely believe in this way of life, in this way of learning, I just haven't been eager to share it. I've been questioned a bit lately, out of pure curiosity, and I haven't really been elaborating too much.

I don't like that!

I want to find the fire, so I'm going to blog about unschooling today, as scattered as my thoughts will probably be right now, and hope that gets the flame really burning again.

Why do we unschool? So many reasons, but let me start with ... we are letting our children have a voice in their own lives. We're not forcing them into an institution for the majority of their awake day. An institution that embraces uniformity and discourages individuality. We wont allow them to waste their entire childhood conforming to what everyone else thinks they should be doing, only to spend the next several years trying to find out who THEY are, separate from everyone else. It's a practice that just does not resonate with me. They are able to fully and freely explore themselves, as individuals NOW, without the pressure of "being like everyone else, knowing what everyone else knows, doing what everyone else does".

The idea that each child needs to know how to read by age XX, or should know multiplication by age XX, or should be able to recognize world geography by age XX, etc, etc, etc ... it's just absurd to me. We're each so very different, and as adults, we're quick to jump to that conclusion, so why are we trying so hard to force our children to be exactly on target with everyone else in their "peer group"? What happens if they're not? They fail, right? What kind of life lesson is that? If you're not like everyone else, you're a failure. WHY would we want that for our children?

Our children are learning because they WANT to learn, not because they are being FORCED to learn. They don't memorize facts that they could care less about, just to pass a test. My kids learn facts because they are interested in the subject matter. My children have an internal drive to want to learn, to want to accomplish things, to want to do the things that make them happy. They are doing it for themselves, not for anyone else. They are becoming the people THEY want to be, not the people society says they SHOULD be. They aren't having their natural, instinctual passion for learning beat out of them with teaching to pass tests, standardized anything, grading scales to show "how smart you are", ridicule, etc.

My kids are still pretty young, so they may want more structure when they're older, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. Right now we are letting them pursue whatever passion they have. Larson is 9, and he has been into human anatomy for several years now. He far surpassed the knowledge I had on the subject quite a while ago, lol. Now we learn it together. Rylan is 6, and he has a love for dinosaurs that is borderline obsessive, haha. He has since he was 2. He knows all of their names; even I struggle with remembering those darn names, lol. There isn't much at all in the house that the kids can't touch, play with, learn from. One day Larson decided he wanted to learn how a vacuum cleaner worked. We let him take apart our 1200 dollar kirby, so he could get that knowledge for himself, hands on, rather then out of some text book.

They seek out things that he wants to learn about. He taught himself how to read, because he loves books! We have read to our kids since they were all still in the womb, so they've always been exposed to words. One day it clicked with him, and he took off with it. He loves reading. Rylan is learning how to read right now for no other reason then to be able to copy my picks in football. Each year our family does football picks (we have a list of all games played each week, and we each pick who we think will win each game). At the end of each season, I have come out WAY ahead EVERY year since we started this tradition, haha. Rylans knows this, so he is determined to read my picks before it's his turn, so that he'll be able pick the same teams, and then he'll win, too! Smart kid, lol! Larson is learning math, not because he has an interest in math per se, but simply because he wants to be able to calculate his allowance, see how it all breaks down, so he'll know how much he's able to spend (they are only allowed to spend 50% of their earnings. 25% goes into their savings, and the other 25% goes into our charity jar that we give each month). He didn't really have much desire to sit and learn math until a situation came up (money, haha) where he found he needed to know how to work with numbers. Simple as that.

Think about everything you were forced to learn in school. Do you even remember a fraction of the stuff?? Or was it more of remembering facts, short term, in order to pass the tests? When my kids learns things... they WANT to learn them, so the information actually sticks. They aren't wasting their time learning things they'll never remember, or don't care about. They are learning the things that will help them pursue the lives they want to lead.

Sure, they may be behind in some areas that public school kids are expected and forced to know by now. Larson struggles a bit with spelling/writing words. He can read them just fine, but when he tries to write the same words down, he struggles some. He is making marked improvement, however, not out of fear of failing or being made fun of, but because he WANTS to. But they're also advanced in some areas that public school kids their age aren't even being exposed to right now, because it's out of their grade level (like the human anatomy and dinosaurs ...).

A lot of people give me the argument of "well, if they want to learn about something not yet covered for their grade level, why can't they just pursue them out of school".

When Larson spent those 4 months in kinder, he had to wake up at 6-6:30am for him to be to school by 7:30, and then we got home at about 2:20pm. After a snack, homework, dinner, chores, bath .... it was almost time for bed again at 7 (we had to move his bedtime to 7, from 8:30, because he was just so exhausted). There wasn't much time to pursue the things that he wanted to. On the weekends, he didn't want to do anything that might even resemble learning, because it had become a chore to him. It was work. It was something he was forced to do for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, and it wasn't fun for him anymore. Before he went into Kinder, he LOVED learning new things. In kinder ... I could already see that fire in him diminishing. In just 4 months! Sure, he had a really crappy teacher that put him down and made him feel like he wasn't good enough, so perhaps on average it takes longer then 4 months, but why put your kid into a system that causes that kind of damage - no matter how long it takes? It's really very sad.

I've been told, many times, that I'm setting my children up to fail. I've been lectured (yes, with a wagging finger and everything) "shame on me, I'm letting my boys slip through the cracks". I've even been told parents aren't qualified to teach their children. Wait, What? How are parents not qualified? Would it be fair to say, that as a parent, we know our children better then anyone? Fair to say that we love our children more then anyone else could? Also fair to say that we want the absolute best for our children? Assuming all of that is accurate, please tell me how we would ALLOW ourselves to let our children slip through the cracks with unschooling? We wouldn't! We're in tune with our children. We know what our children's passions are. We help them pursue those passions to the depths of their souls. Slipping through the cracks? No, I don't think so.

I've also gotten the argument that we're "babying" them by not sending them to school. That we're not letting them face "the real world", and when they are finally turned loose "out there", they'll be completely lost and unable to take care of themselves. I've even been told that being bullied is an important part of growing up! Why is that again? And this "real world" that they talk about, are my children not living in it now? Apparently not, because it seems only adults can be in "the real world". I guess it's their opinion that children are just in dress rehearsal waiting for "the real world" to come along. In any event, how is going to a school relevant to being ready for "the real world"? In "the real world", are adults herded along according to age group? Not allowed to talk or communicate with one another? Ridiculed if they get an answer wrong? Of course not. Life involves people of all ages, all backgrounds, living and learning together. If you encounter a bully in the adult world, you can do some thing about it. Call the police. File a report. In a school system kids are made to feel as though they have to "suck it up", "it's part of life". Why? Why is bullying part of life?

I also get the college argument quite often. How our kids wont possibly be prepared college. Or "if unschooled kids only do the things they want to do, they wont succeed in college" (pre-requisites and all).

Believe it or not, we don't have expectations of our kids going to college. If they want to go, great! If they don't, great! Our only expectation is that they pursue a life that will make them happy. But because we give them the freedom to exercise their internal drive to learn, instead of suppressing it, and letting external forces be the drive for their knowledge, I truly believe my kids will forever seek out knowledge. They enjoy it so much. They love learning. And they'll already be so self driven (rather then being pushed along by outside forces) so college shouldn't be as big of a shock to them as it is with so many public schooled kids.

As far as pre-requsites, if they have a goal in mind, they'll accomplish it. Just like the math/money example I spoke about above. Larson wasn't interested in math, but when he found out that he needed math in order to work with his money, he became interested in learning it. If Rylans goal is to become a paleontologist (that dinosaur obsession of his, haha), he'll know exactly what steps need to be taken, prerequisites and all, in order to get to the nity grity of dinosaurs ... so it WILL be something he wants. He'll do the math, the english, etc because it will be working toward his goal - dinosaurs.

It's a pretty simple concept, actually.

all photographs are of my lovely unschooled children, living life the way in which it was meant to be lived - FREE!!!

October 25, 2008

Controversy Loves Company

12 Questions to stir up a little Controversy!

do you believe in abortion:
I don't believe in abortion, no. But I am (somewhat recently turned) pro-choice.

do you believe in the right to own a gun:

do you believe in equal rights for homosexuals:
ABSOLUTELY!!! This world needs more love.To deny a couple the right to express their love, as everyone else is allowed, simply because of their sexual preference is absurd, it's sick, it's hateful!

what do you think about the welfare system:
I think it's a sad sad system in our country. It needs to be completely revamped! There are some people, some families out there that need help. Honest people that have hit hard times, and they just need a little assistance to help boost them back up. Our government does nothing of the sort! A family of 4 in need of financial assistant will be granted appox 500$ a MONTH to live on, along with food assistance. And they don't just hand you that money, you are required to work for it (rightfully so). A total of 60 hours must be worked each week, split up between the two adults in the house (rotating shifts, so one is always home with the kids - there goes the time needed to search and interview for another job, right). 60 HOURS of work a WEEK, and our government will give them 500$ a MONTH?!?? WTF is wrong with that picture? A month or two and that family will be homeless, dependant even more on the government that helped push them there. It's really very sad.

do you believe in the death penalty:

do you feel the drinking age should be lowered to 18:
I do think it's ridiculous that a person is seen as responsible and capable enough to sign up to protect, and possibly be killed for this country (the military), but aren't seen as responsible and capable enough to drink a beer. Whether that means lowering the drinking age to 18, or raising the age of "adulthood" to 21 - I don't know. But, the two should be the same!

do you believe in premarital sex:
I don't really care one way or another what a person does with their virginity. I didn't wait. If I had to do it over, I'm sure I still wouldn't wait, haa. I have absolutely no fantasy of my children waiting until marriage. If they choose to, fine. If they don't, fine. My only hope is that when they do decide it's the right time for them - they're respectful of themselves and their partner, and that they practice responsibility.

do you think marijuana should be legalized:
Yep, sure do. The idea that a PLANT could be illegal - it's just insanity to me. Alcohol causes a lot of more damage to people in this country then marijuana ever could, however, our government would never again ban the consumption of it. The practice makes us too much money.

Obama or McCain:
As if you didn't know - Obama!!!!! I'm sure if I was ignorant, and decided to believe every youtube video that floated around myspace, depicting Obama as some muslim extremist, baby killing, playbook giving, healthcare socialist I would probably vote McCain, too. However, there's this handy little thing called "research" ... and instead of believing every POS news clip thrown my way, I decide to research truth and facts.OBAMA '08!!!

do you believe in God:
I don't. I'm quite familiar with the bible, and I have never read a book more filled with hate. Hate isn't something I want in my life, and I choose not to believe in Christianity for that, and many other reasons. I'm spiritual, yes -- just not religious.
I do find it odd that so many Christians think atheists are going to "hell". If you think about, Christians are atheist, too. There are so many practiced religions and worshipped "Gods" in this world, yet Christians are denying the possibility that any of them are real ... any of them except for THEIRS, of course.*shrug* (of course this is a SWEEPING generalization! I am in no way suggesting that all Christians fit into a this specific category).

what is your opinion on rights and services for illegal immigrants:
I've always had the attitude of "the more the merrier" ... so I'm sure I'm quite flittery about this, haha. If they're here working, they should be allowed the rights and services of our land. If there is such problem caused, it's the people that offer the jobs that should be held accountable. If the roles were reversed, I'm pretty damn sure most of us would be doing the same thing. Illegally gaining access to a country that promises pay so you'll be able to take care of your family. You know you would! These people are desperate for a way to take care of their families, desperate for a better life, and our country preys upon that desperation, offering jobs for little pay ... and then chucking them to the wolves when the shit hits the fan and someone finds out.

do you believe in spanking:
Nope, I sure don't! If it were your spouse that you were hitting, in the name of "teaching a lesson", it would be considered abuse, charges could be pressed, and you'd likely end up spending a few a jail.Why do we lower our standards when children are involved???

October 24, 2008

The Sound of Rain

We're enjoying a beautiful rainy day here today. I've decided to use this blog to list

10 reasons I am blissful today ...

-The Rain. I am just really enjoying listening to the drops of rain hit the ground. It is a peaceful, soothing sound.

-My Children, of course! They're magnificent! Really, they are, and I'm not just saying that because they're mine *grin*

-Cats! Is there anything better then being snuggled up in a big blanket, reading a book, while a warm furry kitty sleeps curled up in your lap? I think not! I have always been a cat person, and probably always will. My absolute favorite animal - ever (big cats, small cats, and all of them in between) ... I have a kinship with them.

-Big Hand-Knit Warm Socks! Nuff' Said!

-Painting. I adore painting, especially with children. Have you ever just sat and watched a child create a picture with paints (especially water colors)? It's fascinating!! There's no thinking involved, just feeling. You can see everything they are feeling being put down on paper. Spend an afternoon painting with your child(ren). Be sure to become 100% totally immersed in the activity with them, body, mind, and spirit - and it'll be an experience you will hold in your heart forever, I promise!

-Raw Foods and Uncooking! I am seriously in love with the Raw Vegan lifestyle. Right now we have "cheesy" garlic bread in the dehydrator, making my home smell oh so lovely. We also have freshly made warm Almond Butter sitting in a jar on the counter, while my 3 little honey-pies lick the spoon, the spatula, and the bowl ... and the food processor is whirring away making Peanut Butter right now. To my left I have a bowl of bananas, a bowl of oranges, a bowl of asian pears, and a bowl of apples. To my right there is a bowl of peaches, a bowl of pomegranates, a bowl of tomatoes, one of garlic, one of potatoes, one of onions, and a bigger bowl of all the apples and asian pears that didn't fit in these bamboo bowls to the left of me. I absolutely LOVE being surrounded by fresh, living foods! It's makes me feel so ALIVE!

-Tatum, my Pooch. She's such a wonderful, faithful companion. Always right there, under my feet, to remind me I always have a friend near by.

-The Army. Ok, now pick your jaws up off of the floor, and listen to my reason, haha. We have the security of a consistent paycheck, and these days, that is not something to be taken for granted. My heart goes out to all of those people struggling in this failing economy. We are very fortunate to not have to worry about losing our income right now.

-Blogging. The ability to put my thoughts out there into this giant neighborhood we call the World Wide Web is just - wonderful.

-My Honey! We've been married for 10 1/2 years, and although we have had an extreme amount of turbulence along the way, we are determined to stick together.

October 23, 2008

Homesick for Wisconsin

I was born in Racine, WI, and I lived in/around the area (Cudahy & Oak Creek mostly) until I was 14. At age 14 my Mom and I left, rather abruptly, for Nevada. For the first few months I missed Wisconsin, terribly. I think it was mostly the way in which we had to leave ... I was unable to say goodbye to just about everyone I had come to know and love. It was hard, and I longed for some sort of closure.

I missed my sisters (all of whom lived with my Father), and I hated being so far away from them. I knew our relationships would never be the same, and I harbored deep resentment over that fact.

After a few months, I missed WI less and less, and then at some point I didn't even think of it as "home" anymore.

I still felt immense sadness over losing a close relationship with my sisters (I still have terrible heartache about it), but other then that, there was nothing in Wisconsin that was appealing to me. I've said, numerous times, there is no amount of money that could influence me to EVER live in WI again!

I have loved being in warmer weather, year round ... citing how I'd "never go back to that frozen tundra - ever"!!! And I meant it. With every fiber of my being, I meant it!

And yet, here we are, 14 years and 3 months later, and for the first time I am missing it so entirely right now (and have been for the past couple of months). I miss seasons. I really do. Especially this season, Autumn. I've traveled coast to coast, and back again (a couple of times) since leaving Wisconsin, and I can say without a doubt, the Autumns in Wisconsin are some of the most beautiful Autumn scenes I've ever witnessed! Absolutely breathtaking! I miss it!! I miss all of it. The chill in the air that has you bundled up with warm knit hats, scarves and mittens, the smells of chimney's and hot apple cider, the crunching sound as you walk over leaves that are just bursting with color.

I haven't even been back to visit in over 10 years, but right now I'd pack everything up and move back there if I could...

Ahhh, I am completely homesick for Wisconsin!

October 22, 2008

An observation

I frequent both Obama and McCain sites daily, and am subscribed to both party's headquarter news. Not because I'm undecided, but because I like to be informed. The whole "know you're competition before you begin, while you're in, and after it's over" type thing.

I have yet to find any consistently positive message coming from the McCain camp. Most of their efforts are spent on Obama. What kind of person Obama is. What lies in Obama's past. Obama's policies. Obama's family. Obama's this, Obama's that. Really, most every bit of news put out by the McCain camp focuses NOT on McCain himself, or even Palin for that matter, but instead on their competition - Obama/Biden.

Of course a certain amount of effort HAS to be spent on the competition. I'm not naive, I get it, thanks. But when the MAJORITY (and in this case the VAST majority) or your time, your finances, your campaign as a whole is spent on the OTHER guy ... don't you think something is wrong with that picture?

Don't you McCain/Palin supporters ever ask yourself why your candidate chooses not to focus on himself, on his own campaign ... other then the inconsistent crumb dropped here and there, and instead chooses to talk mainly about Obama?

Manipulation? Scare tactics? A weak campaign?

You decide.

October 21, 2008

Two Weeks until ELECTION DAY!

Can you feel the electricity in the air? A Change is a'coming!!!

I know so many of you are turned off by politics for a number of reasons. The lies so many politicians are known for. The empty promises. The *slaughter* campaigns that can show such an ugly side of people. The election process all together (the completely out-dated electoral college system, the no paper trail computerized voting machines, the idea that no matter how many people vote, the outcome is and will always be "rigged", etc, etc, etc). Maybe you just don't really care who the leaders of this country are, so why get involved. There are a million and three reasons people give for not getting involved.

Whatever your reasons are, I'm sure they haven't changed much, have they? I bet you still think all politicians are liars, so what's the point? I bet you still feel it doesn't really matter - it's just one vote, right? I bet you're still just as discouraged about the voting system, and just don't really want to waste your time with it, right? So all of the "not caring" hasn't done a thing for you, has it? Same feelings, same outcome. So why not just TRY something new. VOTE! You have nothing to lose, but you could have EVERYTHING to gain.

Imagine a country that evoked feelings of inspiration. Imagine a country that evoked feelings of encouragement, hope, strength, and state of mind that WE CAN DO IT!!! No matter what "IT" is, we CAN do it.

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World!!!

Visualize everything you hope for this country, for yourself, and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Have hope, have faith, have encouragement, and inspiration, and strength --- and then get out there and VOTE to get us one step closer to having our visions for a better world become reality.


Obviously, I support Barack Obama. But my message works for you McCain folks, too. Just vote! Get involved! USE YOUR VOICE!!!

October 1, 2008

Register to VOTE!!!

Any fellow South Carolina readers here??? If so, this message is for YOU!

THIS Saturday (Oct 4th) is the LAST day you can register to vote in this upcoming election!

We all know how HUGE this election is (no matter which candidate/party you support)

Give yourself a voice - MAKE THE TIME TO REGISTER!!!