10/30/2006

3rd Adoption anniversary

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the day we became a family. :-) We celebrate our adoption anniversary by doing something fun each year. The first year we stayed here for a week and went to Universal Studios and Wet & Wild. The next year we stayed close to home and went out for dinner and dessert. This year we decided to go away again. We'll be visting Cypress Gardens for two days and staying here, in the suites, for two nights. We're really looking forward to it! My mom is coming with us also . :-)

My youngest (age 8) made a banner for me and one for my husband. We had talked a few months back about Mothers Day in May, and how it doesn't personally mean anything to me...because it's not the day I became a mother. I told her that my mothers day is October 30th. So on the banner she wrote "Happy Mommy's Day! Happy Anniversary! Thank you for being my mom". She also made a card for my mom. :-)

10/24/2006

Mimi Doe

I subscribe to Mimi Doe's Spiritual Parenting newsletter. As with everything else, I take what I need and leave the rest. Here's what I "took" away from her last e-mail.

A SEASON OF ABUNDANCE
We can change our mindset and approach each encounter with our children from a higher place - a place centered in Spirit and love. When we parent with love, our children take away a positive cherished feeling; actions that seem little or unimportant to us have the potential to cause a profound reaction in our children. Pay attention and counteract the harshness our world wants to impose on kids. Always remember that children are citizens of the spiritual world as well as the physical world. You honor their souls as you acknowledge they are spirit in human form. It might take kids a while to get used to their cumbersome, limiting form - so have patience. When you strengthen their natural connection to spirit you give them the gift of an abundant future.

Enjoy what you have and remain aware of the abundance that fills your life. Point out all the wonderful bounty in your child's life. Be open to the gifts that are given to you. Look at your day as being filled with endless choices, endless opportunities, and endless growth. It is indeed another day and there is always another way. Remember that abundance is a state of being, an awareness of the gifts right here, right now. Try a "gratitude attitude" and give your children the gift of abundance thinking. When my kids were younger I would ask them each day, “What gifts do you think the Universe is going to deliver to you today?” They became bounty hunters, abundance seekers, and grateful recipients of a full moon glowing for them or an astonishing leaf sighting or snow that packed perfectly into a snowwoman.

As much energy as our children share with us, it is also important we fill ourselves with energy from our own wellsprings so that we can begin anew. When we are centered and energized we are able to give to our children without draining ourselves, and to receive without draining them. Our children need the same energizing tools. Being aware of breath is a simple but effective energy enhancer. Remind children to take deep breaths throughout the day. Whenever we are feeling tired we can breathe in the energy of the universe. Before each meal we can habitually breathe in and out deeply a few times. We can take breaks throughout our days and step outside to breathe the fresh air, feeling it flow through our bodies.

Mimi Doe is the founder of SpiritualParenting.com and the award winning author of, "NurturingYourTeenager's Soul" and "Busy But Balanced." Mimi's free newsletter,Spiritual Parenting, has over 50,000 subscribers from around the world.Sign up on the website: Spiritual Parenting

10/22/2006

Day 150

Ren shared this cute site on her blog. I'll show it to the girls when they wake up tomorrow but I played with it first. :-) Here's the girl I created...

10/19/2006

Day 149

Our dirt bike is up and running once again (Thanks Gary!). Shawna is SO GOOD on it! Right now, she's the perfect height and weight for it. Jacqueline is still to small to ride herself and she and Billy are to much weight on it together. Cimion rides it but he's getting to tall for it.

They mostly ride in our yard but our neighbor has been letting ride on his empty lot before he puts down grass. I have to get some pictures up here but it's a Panterra Sandcat NT. :-)

Shawna & the cell phone

Shawna's friend got one of those Fire Fly kiddie cell phones for her birthday a while back. It's an actual working phone...the phone itself is $80 and the minutes are 25 cents a minute and they expire in 90 days. Plus...you have 30 days to add minutes, when the old ones expire, or they cancel your account.

Like we used to say in Brooklyn...if you think that's a good deal, I got a bridge I'd like to sell you. LOL

A few weeks ago, Shawna told me she was going to save her money and buy one. She gets $25 a month from us and had about $50 saved at that point. I reminded her about the minutes...which she had forgotten about. I explained that if she doesn't continually buy minutes, the phone would, in essence become a very expensive play cell phone.

Shawna doesn't really have a need for a cell phone. She's not at the point yet where she gets together with her friends away from the house...it's either at our house, someone else's house or she's at an activity with them. She just wants one because they're fun...and cool. Which, in my mind, is a perfectly good reason to want something. :-)

Billy said she would price regular cell phones/prepaid minutes and also see how much it would cost to add her on our plan.

I thought about it for a couple of days...determined to figure out a solution that would be easy on Shawna's wallet and not end up being our financial responsibility.

Before Billy had a chance to do that, I came up with an idea. Being Billy is basically the only one that calls me on my cell phone and he's home with me on the weekends, my phone rarely gets used on Saturday & Sunday....and we have free weekend minutes. I asked Shawna is she would like my phone on the weekends. She could keep it with her from Friday night until she went to bed Sunday and I would show her how to add her friends to the phone book. I explained that it wouldn't cost her anything...which she loved. LOL

So now, every weekend you can find Shawna with the phone attached to her ear (although each week the novelty wears off more and more) talking to her friends but guess who she calls the most?

My mother...who lives next door. :-)

10/15/2006

Everyday Blessings

I've blogged about the book Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon & Myla Kabat-Zinn here and here. In the back of the book, they list 12 exercises for mindful parenting. I wrote about the first three in the other posts. The 4th one is:

4. Be mindful of your expectations of your children and consider whether they are truly in your child's best interest. Also, be aware of how you communicate those expectations and how they affect your children.

This is something I always try to keep in mind with Shawna. She's made so many positive changes in the last year and I was feeling like I was expecting her to always make the right choice and was sometimes putting to much pressure on her.

Number 5 is Practice altruism, putting the needs of your children above your own whenever possible. Then see if there isn't some common ground, where your true needs can also be met. You may be surprised at how much overlap is possible, especially if you are patient and strive for balance.

Day 147

We had a neighbor boy (9 yrs. old) here the other day. After he left, Jacqueline was telling me that he was trying to hit Shawna (my 11 year old) with a stick and that Shawna told him to stop, which he did. Then, he was trying to hit my son (13 years old) with a baseball. Again, they asked him to stop. Jacqueline told me that Shawna asked him "Why are you like that? Where do you think you learned to be like that?". (A therapist in the making. lol)
Jacqueline told me that she said to him "We're not violent in this family! You need to stop!".
That's my baby...advocate for peace. :-) I asked them why they didn't tell me and the girls said that they "wanted to try and talk to him first, kid to kid, and see if they could get through to him". :-)



10/11/2006

What is unschooling?

Kelly Lovejoy, coordinator for the Live & Learn Unschooling Conference posted this on an unschooling e-mail list I'm a member of. She was answering someone's question, which was "What exactly is unschooling? I thought it was another name for homeschooling".

"All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles.

All unschooling is homeschooling, but all homeschooling isn't unschooling.

Unschooling is legally a type of homeschooling.

Unschoolers don't "school-at-home" nor do we gives tests or grades.

Unschooling accepts all learning as valid. Everything is connected. You never know when one thing will lead to or connect with another! Unschoolers know they *do* and will keep searching for those connections.

Unschooling is natural learning. Humans are hard-wired to learn-we crave it and seek it out. When you believe that, you're half-way to understanding how it works.

Unschooling is understanding the difference between teaching and learning. That's a HUGE hurdle to overcome before you can "get" unschooling. (I can *teach* you everything *I* know about unschooling, but unless you're willing to *learn* it, I'm wasting my time and your time.)

All children can unschool.
Many parents can't.

Unschooling requires a "paradigm shift" to make it work. And it works best when you (the parent) are an active learner. And curious and thoughtful and enthusiastic and interested and interesting.

It's about trust and respect and patience.

It helps if you can step OUT of the box. If you're OK going against the flow and standing up for yourself (or at least your child)."


There you have it...unschooling. :-)

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Day 146

I submitted posts to two recent blog carnivals...one was
this post about Jacqueline for the Carnival of Family Life and the other was this post about Shawna for the Carnival of Homeschooling. :-)

10/08/2006

Links to Unschooling Voices #4

Before I get to the links, Schuyler over at Warts and all, said she felt that she didn't really answer the question of the month with her post and added an addendum to it. I thought her original post was great, but because I value her thoughts on unschooling, anything extra is like the cherry on top. :-)

Thank you to the following bloggers and web site owners for adding a link to
Unschooling Voices #4. I'll keep this updated for about a week so if I missed someone or you add a link after I post this, feel free to leave a comment (in this post please) and I'll be sure to add it in. :-)

Schuyler at
Warts and All
Tammy at
Just Enough and Nothing More
JoVE at
Trictomania
Lesa at
Learning in Freedom Everyday
Ron & Andrea at
A Typical Homeschool
Paige at
Up to Parr
Chris at
Zamozo on Unschooling
Melissa not only
linked back, but went on to write a great post that I'll add to next month's edition.
Phoebe at
Avec Mes Zebres
Mama Chaos at
Wired for Noise
Stephanie at
Throwing Marshmellows
Henry at
Why Homeschool
Maureen at
Unity of Truth
Connections, a new monthly ezine of unschooling and mindful parenting, reviewed Unschooling Voices for their current issue. You can read a free issue before you decide to subscribe. Thanks Danielle!

Unschooling Voices welcomes thoughts from both new, and seasoned unschooling parents. Entries from unschooled kids (reviews, poems, stories, etc) are also gladly accepted. The next one will be out on November 1 and information can be found
here.

Thank you to everyone who participated and who helped get the word out. :-)


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10/06/2006

Jacqueline's poem

Blue Things
By Jacqueline, age 8

Blue banana, Blue I see
What a crazy thing.
Home one day at sundown
Started seeing blue wings.
Weird things I couldn't believe
Happily singing "Home at last!"
Saw blue things again
I told them what was happening to me
They said I'm crazy
Now I'm stuck seeing blue things.

*edited to add a side note**
After I posted this, I showed Jacqueline. She saw that the title said "Day 145" and wanted to know how many days she's been with us. I told her it was over 1000 days. As she turned to walk away, she said, "Over 1000 days!! No wonder I'm crazy!!".

Yup....she fits in just fine around here. :-)

10/05/2006

Day 144

Books we've bought recently (at our libraries used book store):







10/04/2006

Moving along the adoption path

Things have been a little stressful here lately. I haven't blogged about it although I have posted about one part of it at Forever Parents, which was the part about Cimion.

If things don't change soon, that boy is going to be the death of me. It's so difficult to live with someone who has nothing emotionally invested in us...someone who lives as if we're just his next stop in life. Billy & I have considered (actually, we still are considering it) putting him back in school just so I can get a break from him.

It's sad really...deep down he's a good kid who had the bad misfortune to be born to people who didn't care about him. We or course, get all the backlash and anger from that, even though we did nothing to cause it.

The girls are thriving....healing, happy, loving life and he's like a weight that pulls them down sometimes. It's not fair to them.

*sigh*

The end of this month will be our 3rd year adoption anniversary and we're planning a 2 day overnight trip to
Cypress Gardens, here in Florida. The truth is, we may not take him. Our therapist does theraputic respite and that's where he may spend those two days. It would be foolish of me to spend several hundred dollars to be aggrivated when I can do it at home, for free. When we went to the Kennedy Space Center he was miserable most of the time and I don't really want a repeat performance.

We'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

The other thing is my mom. :-( After a life of ill health, her health is failing to the point where it's severly affecting her life. She can't drive anymore and she's in constant discomfort. I'm so glad she lives next door...it's easy for us to take care of her when she's so close. I'm so grateful to my husband and daughters, who love her with all their hearts and make her happy. The girls go there often, to watch a movie or just hand out and have tea. :-) Billy is always doing things for her...they have such a special relationship. :-) Through it all though, she's the same optimistic person. She not only sees her glass as half full, she sees it over flowing. :-)

I'm sorry this post is such a downer. :-( Now that I got that out I can get back to posting about all the fun stuff.

10/02/2006

Day 141

It's been a while since we checked the geography tracker. My kids totally enjoy seeing how many visitors come from which countries. Here's the latest stats:

United States 7919 82.74%
Canada 601 6.28%
United Kingdom 268 2.80%
France 212 2.22%
Australia 169 1.77%
Germany 62 0.65%
New Zealand 31 0.32%
Ireland 28 0.29%
Philippines 25 0.26%
Netherlands 24 0.25%
Singapore 13 0.14%
Israel 12 0.13%
Japan 12 0.13%
Malaysia 11 0.11%
Norway 11 0.11%
Virgin Islands, U.S. 11 0.11%
India 10 0.10%
Sweden 9 0.09%
Switzerland 9 0.09%
Portugal 8 0.08%
Hong Kong 7 0.07%
Mexico 7 0.07%
Thailand 7 0.07%
Korea, Republic of 7 0.07%
Bahamas 6 0.06%
Jamaica 6 0.06%
Czech Republic 5 0.05%
South Africa 5 0.05%
United Arab Emirates 4 0.04%
Romania 4 0.04%
Greece 4 0.04%
Barbados 3 0.03%
Spain 3 0.03%
Iceland 3 0.03%
Puerto Rico 3 0.03%
Italy 3 0.03%
Hungary 3 0.03%
Indonesia 3 0.03%
Taiwan 2 0.02%
Colombia 2 0.02%
Argentina 2 0.02%
Luxembourg 2 0.02%
China 2 0.02%
Saint Lucia 2 0.02%
Estonia 2 0.02%
Austria 2 0.02%
Costa Rica 2 0.02%
Denmark 2 0.02%
Brazil 2 0.02%
Egypt 1 0.01%
Slovakia 1 0.01%
Iran, Islamic Republic of 1 0.01%
Belgium 1 0.01%
Ecuador 1 0.01%
Finland 1 0.01%
Kenya 1 0.01%
Ukraine 1 0.01%
Guatemala 1 0.01%
Kuwait 1 0.01%
Peru 1 0.01%
Qatar 1 0.01%
Turkey 1 0.01%
Russian Federation 1 0.01%
Oman 1 0.01%
Guyana 1 0.01%
Chile 1 0.01%

10/01/2006

Day 140

This past Saturday was Museum Day, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. Billy took the kids to a local museum, The Appleton. They said they enjoyed it and Jacqueline said she liked the asian exhibit best.

Last night, Shawna's friend Britni slept over. She's such a sweet girl. :-) They used to go to school together and now they're in the same Girl Scout troop. Jacqueline slept at my mom's house (she lives next door) so the two girls could have the bedroom for themselves. The polished each others nails, watched some movies (Honey, I blew up the kids and Daredevil) and went bike riding. :-)

Shawna rejoined her Storytelling Club, which started up again last week. I
blogged about the last time she participated in it and how well she did in the storytelling festival. She decided to tell the same story this time as she did last time. Cimion opted out this time around.

Speaking of Cimion, would you believe he just hit the 6' mark!!! At 13 years old! He's so TAAAAAALLL. :-) At almost 4'11", I'm sooooo short next to him. LOL
I just signed him up for basketball, which starts in November. I think he'll be great at it! He's also restarting Boy Scouts tomorrow night.

Lots of fun stuff going on here... :-)

Unschooling Voices #4: Unschooling Math

Welcome!!

The 5th Unschooling Voices will be out on November 1. If you'd like to participate,
click here for the details. The new question for the month and past editions of Unschooling Voices can be found there also.

If you post a link to this months installment on your blog or site, please let me know (by leaving a comment here) so I can thank you with a link back. :-)

A small request...when you e-mail in a submission, please include a short description of it. I would much rather use your words, instead of mine to describe what you wrote. Thanks! Just a sentence or two is fine.

This month there are 15 participants who submitted 18 entries. As you click the links that take you to the different blogs and sites, I encourage you to comment on the ones that you particularly enjoy (tell 'em we sent ya!) or maybe offer some words of wisdom to someone at an unschooling crossroads. As you read, keep in mind that everyone who participated is at a different place in their unschooling journey.

The (always optional) question for October was on the topic of math and I'd like to start off with a quote from the post that
Schuyler submitted.

"If you look at the world through schooled eyes your vision will be a fractured vision. School has taken a system of interconnected processes and ideas and separated them and stuffed them into a vacuum, leaving the learner with no sense that there is an applied relationship between what they are being taught and the rest of their lives."

The question for this month was, how do/did you get to that mindset. Lots of really good posts were submitted on this topic.

Paige
submitted this blog post titled, "No Textbooks Required".

Michelle shares her thoughts on
"Math or Living in the World without a Math Education".

Mama Chaos
shares a small rant about math.

Cher submitted her thoughts on
unschooling math.

Chris submitted an interesting exchange about math on an unschooling list.

Ron shares this thoughts on this months topic.

JoVE blogged about how her "struggle has been to get her (daughter) back to enjoying math, something school knocked out of her". She also shares how games are part of their lives.

Annalea (what a pretty name!) talks about
living math.

Stephanie talks about a few of the fun math resources that her family has enjoyed lately from DVDs to entertaining books. Math does not have to be “drill and kill”…sometimes it can be (and should be!) about fascinating stories!

Leonie give us a glimpse into her life with
a week of math.

Maureen
shares a quote, and the link to Living Math.

Dharmamama
updates us on her life with her new daughter and how she's been asking to learn math.

Laura e-mailed me two submissions and I posted them here.

My own two submissions are a collection of thoughts and ideas from a now defunct unschooling message board. I originally posted them because I didn't want to lose them but they go in with this months question, so here they are. Be warned-they're very long.
Here is part one and part two.

There you have it! Thank you to all who participated this month. I really enjoyed reading all your thoughts on math. :-)


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Member submission-Unschooling Voices #4

Laura submitted the following two entries to Unschooling Voices #4:

1: For our family unschooling math is an extension of this life we live.
Our oldest child who turned 15 yesterday attended PS for 3 years. He struggled with the new math and showing his work. When he left school he was left with not much math interest and a sizable dislike for it's teachings.
It's been just about 7 years since he left school and school styled teaching. I can say now that though he may still not be fond of math he does use it everyday.
Dustin, our teen mentioned above, uses math in an online game that he plays called Runescape and he enjoy's cooking, buying and selling on Ebay and shopping.

This week we discussed how much drivers ed was, how many weeks the class were and how much it would be weekly for the class. The class cost is $420.00 for 5 weeks. He was gifted 60.00 for his birthday along with a muzzle loader. His focus wasn't driving with friends or rushing to get the drivers ed over with. More so it was how many days until his 16th birthday so he can drive to his favorite hunting spot without having to wait for his Dad to get out of work or the weekend(he can go alone at 16). He has hunted with his dad since he was 4 which was when I met Dh. In that 11 years he has never shot at a deer.
He has also asked me to plan some hikes with the kids so he can get his strength up to walk through the woods when the season starts. This radically unschooled child has shown me over and over how right leaving mainstream parenting was:)

To get back to his birthday and math I asked for several days what he wanted to do for his 15th birthday. In the past he choose movies with friends, a party or sleep over. The day before his birthday he said, "I just wanted to spend the day with the family."
He mentioned dinner out or in and then opted for dinner in. He's taken an interest in cooking this year so off we went to the meat store. He chose and helped cook prime rib (based on the family size and our eating habits:) with broccoli & cheese, onion rings with spicy dipping sauce, green beans and salad. Without discussion of math or limits on cost he figured out what it cost us compared to what we normally spend a Bugaboo's. Math without the lesson or yucky stuff. Everyone had a wonderful meal and our son shared that with us. Pretty cool!

2: As a family of 6 using math as part of life happens each day. Having three smaller children who have no school experiences and one who had 3 years of school math seems much more natural for the littles. Some conversations I have had with my almost 7 yr old were had at midnight or random discussions over the years.
One example I can offer is one of puppies and breeders. Cassidy asked how many puppies we could expect from our dog. I told her how many she had in her last litters and Cassidy averaged what we could expect. She then went on to other conversations about dogs we purchased from other breeders and things we use everyday and how many are left if we take a few away. By the time she was done she had figured out addition, subtraction and multiplication without the labels.

When she was 4 we were in the driveway and she observed something that hit me like a brick. She understood math deeper than I had known. She said, " Mom, we have four cars.. when daddy goes to work we have three and if your car is gone we have two and..." On she went, I listened with a near jaw drop on my face. I wasn't sure if I was going to cry, smile , hug her or add to it. I think I said something like wow that was cool I didn't realize you understood that. She then went on to count other things.

I didn't learn my multiplication tables until after I graduated high school. I disliked math so seeing my children get it without the pressure or tests I know they will have a better experience than I. Seeing the different paths to math/life experiences that my children have taken is clear to me that unschooling was/is a wonderful path for our family.

Laura Drew
Unschoolingmaine.com