Update on Unschooling Voices #8

*updated post on bottom*

I'm going to have to hold off on putting it together this month (March edition: #8) due to some issues in our family that need my focus and time. My mom is in the hospital and things with Cimion are very stressful right now. Unschooling Voices is something I put a lot of pride into and I don't want to just slap it together.

Keep sending in your submissions and I'll have #8 out on April 1st. Here's the link to read past editions or get information on how you can participate. Thanks for understanding.

*update* I know I was vague in my original post and I decided to add a few more details because it's such an important part of our adoption journey (which I documented on this blog).
At the time we adopted our children they were 5, 8 & 11. They're now 8, 11 & 14. (They're biological siblings) The older two suffered severe abuse and extreme neglect while still in their birth home and emotional trauma in foster care (they were is foster care for four years) and they both came to us very angry and hostile children but over time (and with a lot of help) my middle child has overcome a lot of the obstacles that stood in her way of having a happy life. My oldest has not and instead has continued on his downward spiral. Over the last few months he has increasingly become more violent, angry and aggressive...mostly towards me. I was prepared for this early in our adoption process....having talked extensively with his caseworkers and therapists about how *in his mind*, the love from a mother equals pain and abuse and he will do all he can to push me away to protect himself from my "love".
I'm not sure where we'll go from here. We're just as committed to him as they day we became his parents, although we know we cannot be responsible parents to any of our children while living with someone full of anger and agression.
Please keep Cimion in your thoughts. Through this whole ordeal, my heart goes out to him because he struggles with psycological issues that were put upon him by the same adults who should have had his best interest at heart.
Please also keep my mother in your thoughts. She's been my rock for so long and it's very hard to see her health declining. She's the ultimate optimist, always looking at the bright side and always grateful for each new day. I've learned so much from her and my husband and daughters adore her. She was supposed to come out of the hospital but she fell in their bathroom and needs to stay longer now.
Thank you for leaving such thoughful comments. It really helped me to read them and I appreciate your taking the time to write it.


20/20 Stupid in America

Just in case you missed it when it aired on television.

Town Hall Meeting

Shawna has been interested in colonial and early America for quite some time and that interest has taken her in many directions. She was especially interested in learning how the original govenment was set up and what the different branches are responsible for. When I heard there was going to be a town hall meeting in our neighborhood with Congressman Stearns, the girls wanted to go, so Billy took them.

They both found it interesting and were glad they went. Jacqueline said that one woman asked about illegal immigrants and another man asked about taxes. Billy also asked the congressman for his opinion on the fair tax bill. Since then, many discussions have come from this one meeting, and I suspect, many more will follow. One of the things we talked about was Jacqueline's opinion of the woman asking about illegal immigrants. She felt the woman was racist and didn't want people of other skin colors in our country.

I love that my unschooled children viewed this as an opportunity to experience something new, much like our recent visit to the medieval faire. They felt no pressure to prove what they learned, there was no test to pass, no grade to get. They attended simply because they wanted to...because they're interested in the life around them and their place in it. :-)


Jacqueline's story in 'Connections'

My daughter, Jacqueline had one of her stories published in the February issue of Connections, which is an ezine of unschooling and mindful parents. She's very excited. :-) It was her first story and it's called Princess Barbie. Here's the link to it posted on my blog.

Check out the free issue of Connections when you have some time. Danielle does a great job and it's only $10 for the year.


Birds that share our yard (robin)

**update** Thanks to Susan and 'Q' for helping out with the name of this bird**

I'm not that familiar (yet) with the names of the different types of birds that visit our yard but I love watching them from our windows.

Anybody know what type of bird this is?

Interesting article on parents who adopt.

Study: Adoptive Parents Get High Marks
AP National WriterFebruary 12, 2007 NEW YORK

Adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents, according to a new national study challenging arguments that have been used to oppose same-sex marriage and gay adoption.

The study, published in the new issue of the American Sociological Review, found that couples who adopt spend more money on their children and invest more time on such activities as reading to them, eating together and talking with them about their problems.

"One of the reasons adoptive parents invest more is that they really want children, and they go to extraordinary means to have them," Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell, one of the study's three co-authors, said in a telephone interview Monday.

"Adoptive parents face a culture where, to many other people, adoption is not real parenthood," Powell said. "What they're trying to do is compensate. ... They recognize the barriers they face, and it sets the stage for them to be better parents."

Powell and his colleagues examined data from 13,000 households with first-graders in the family. The data was part of a detailed survey called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies.

The researchers said 161 families in the survey were headed by two adoptive parents, and they rated better overall than families with biological parents on an array of criteria -- including helping with homework, parental involvement in school, exposure to cultural activities and family attendance at religious services. The only category in which adoptive parents fared worse was the frequency of talking with parents of other children.

The researchers noted that adoptive couples, in general, were older and wealthier than biological parents, but said the adoptive parents still had an advantage -- albeit smaller -- when the data was reanalyzed to account for income inequality.

In particular, the researchers said, adoptive parents had a pronounced edge over single-parent and stepparent families.

The researchers said their findings call into question the long-standing argument that children are best off with their biological parents. Such arguments were included in state Supreme Court rulings last year in New York and Washington that upheld laws against same-sex marriage.

The researchers said gay and lesbian parents may react to discrimination by taking extra, compensatory steps to promote their children's welfare.

"Ironically, the same social context that creates struggles for these alternative families may also set the stage for them to excel in some measures of parenting," the study concluded.

An opponent of same-sex marriage, Peter Sprigg of the conservative Family Research Council, noted that the study focused on male/female adoptive couples, not on same-sex couples, and he questioned whether it shed any new light on adoptive parenting by gays. Sprigg, the research council's vice president for policy, said he warmly supports adoption, but believes it is best undertaken by married, heterosexual couples.

Another conservative analyst, psychologist Bill Maier of Focus on the Family, said the authors of the new study seemed to be pursuing a political agenda in support of gay marriage. "Put simply, gay adoption creates families that are motherless or fatherless by design, permanently depriving children of either a mother or a father," Maier said.

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, welcomed the study's findings, but cautioned against possibly exaggerated interpretations of it.

"It's an affirmation that there are all sorts of families that are good for kids," he said. "Adoptive parents aren't less good or better. They just bring different benefits to the table. In terms of how families are formed, it should be a level playing field."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and the American Educational Research Association. Powell's co-authors were Laura Hamilton, a doctoral student at Indiana University, and Simon Cheng, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut.


Day 175

We've had this Panterra Sandcat for about a year. Shawna LOVES riding it and she handles it well. Cimion is to long for it (his knees hit the handles), and Jacqueline is still to small for it so Shawna pretty much has it for herself right now. I don't ride it but Billy gets on it sometimes (while dreaming of a Harley).

Dress up games

Jacqueline, playing on cartoon doll emporium, one of her favorite sites. They claim to be the "biggest dress up site on the web". When you visit, Jacqueline recommends the music link (there are different types of music but she likes rock) and anime.

Unschooling Interview

A few months ago, a student at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism contacted me and wanted to know if they could ask me some questions about unschooling for research they were doing. Here are her questions, and my answers.

1) You address a lot of the day to day in your blog, but what are the biggest hurdles to starting?

For me, it was changing the way I view education, school and learning. Real learning...learning that truly means something to an individual. Learning has nothing to do with passing or failing, dividing the world up into subjects or taking a standardized test. That's not learning. Education is not telling students that today is June 1 and someone decided that you need to learn about dolphins and when you're going to be tested to see if you can regurgatate all the facts back. And if you do, bingo!...you're learned!
For me, seeing the learning in everything and not dividing the world up into educational and not educational has been very helpful.

In Guerilla Learning, by Grace Llewellyn she says; "Real learning requires meaning. Meaningless information can be memorized and repeated, but it's not learning. For information to have meaning, there must be meaningfull context for the information. That's why most people, unless they are really good at absorbing and retaining meaningless data, forget most of what they learned in school.In school, subjects are artifically seperated from each other. It's as if schools believe that if you give kids one tree at a time, year after year, they will save them up and make a forest out of them. School can sap kids interest in learning, confuse them with so many meaningless "trees" that it may take years to recover and begin to see the "forest" again. School can simply eat up so much of their time that there's none left for the real learning, for spontaneous exploration or free play. Instead of discovering their unique gifts and talents, many learn to see themselves as "disabled" if they don't keep up with the traditional school systems standards of measurement."

2) And what are the unexpected benefits you find along the way?

For my children, one of the unexpected benefits is how they (especially my youngest) are starting to question things more. They're interested in knowing things. They're curious. They're starting to see that learning is not something you do just to pass a test. For me, an unexpected benefit was how much I would change through this journey.

3) How has homeschooling helped your children blosom?

Unschooling is allowing them to be free and they're blossoming in that freedom. They're starting to become more sure of themselves, which isn't hard to do when you're not in school. There's nobody telling them that they're failures so their confidence in themselves is soaring. They are starting to see that life is not sectioned into educational and not educational and that they're interests take them places that school could never.


Gaming at Chuck's

We went to Chuck E. Cheese's after breakfast, earlier this week. My kids love going there and they have such cool games at the one near us. They seem to cater to older kids at this one, although that's not the case with all of them . We already had tokens for games left from the last time and both girls have a refillable cup that they can bring in with each visit and get free drinks so we ended up not spending any money this time around.


Trusting your child

Natural Parenting: Trusting your child
by Ela Forest

It is natural to have fear for our children's well-being, but there is no reason not to trust children to know their own limits. Everybody knows their limits much better than those around them.

I know exactly how high I can jump, to what shelf I can reach or how big a hammer I can handle, and I don't put myself in danger. The same goes for children, if we let them.

Learning from the developing nations:

Children in developing nations are usually given tools to help in family chores. Throughout rural Asia I saw small children, even as young as three-years-old, carrying a machete around with them, and participating with their older siblings in chopping bamboo.

Many times when these children observe their elders in an activity, they want to do it too. The children are allowed to watch or to participate in the work as they feel like, and there is never any fear that they might cut themselves on sharp tools.

Self confidence through trust:

Whereas in the west, when a toddler sees her caregiver working around the house and she wants to join in, fearful caregivers often respond by saying, "No, you're too little, you can't use a knife," or "You can't stir the pot, you'll burn yourself." This can gradually undermine the child's self-confidence and instil fear.

Children who constantly hear the mistrust of "Don't do that, it's dangerous!" won't easily learn how to judge their own limits or how to trust in their own abilities.

So many times I've witnessed a child happily climbing up stairs and then the mother rushes over shouting, "Get down from there! You'll fall!" Sometimes the child readily obliges by falling.

Children whose parents show complete confidence in their children's abilities will in turn have confidence in their own abilities. They rarely fall, and when they do, they pick themselves up, and start again.

Letting children find their own limits:

I have always let my daughter, Sequoia, find her own limits, even when it means swallowing my fear as she climbs high in the playground. When she takes a knife to help me cut vegetables, I know that she understands that the knife can be sharp. In fact, though Sequoia uses knives almost every day, she has never cut herself, while I manage to cut myself all the time!

It's okay to remind children to look out for themselves, that the pot is hot, that they need to hold on tight, to stop and look both ways, but it's important to let them be responsible for themselves. Children who are allowed to find their own limits will know their limits, and they always ask for help when they find themselves reaching those limits.

Teaching boundaries without fear tactics:

Of course children need to have limits and clear boundaries set for them, such as "We don't run on the road" and "We only cross when the light is green," but there is no need to teach children these boundaries by using fear tactics.

The three-year-old of one of my clients was told by a well-meaning grandmother that he must always hold hands on the street "or else all the big cars would run him over."

Overnight he changed from being a confident boy, who knew the "road rules" and was happy to hold his caregiver's hand when crossing the road into a fearful wreck.

He became afraid of walking outside, even on the footpath. Every time a car passed, he would scream in terror, break away from his caregiver and run blindly, often falling over and hurting himself, and he would then explain that he got his bruises and scrapes from "the big cars that ran me over."

Responding to falls:

Likewise, there are parents who, when the child falls or bumps herself, rush over crying, "Oh you poor baby, you hurt yourself, let me pick you up!" The child quickly learns to respond accordingly; by being hurt, by crying. Parents often forget to wait a second to see if the child is actually hurt before making a big fuss, and more often than not, children aren't injured at all in most little falls and tumbles - they pick themselves right up and go on playing.

A caregiver who doesn't react loudly to every little fall, bruise and bump will actually encourage a child who has fallen down not to cry. And if a child should cry, it is a natural signal of genuine pain or shock and usually all they need is a little comfort and a kiss better.

Letting the child lead:

It is very important to react only to the child's signals and not to our own fearful responses. It's easy to know what a child needs because they will let their caregivers know, even if the child isn't yet talking.

If a child needs a 'kiss better' they will whimper and hold out the injured hand or knee, and if she really needs comfort, she will cry. The best way to help a child who is genuinely hurt, or in need of comfort is to hold the child and let her cry. Let her know that you understand that she feels pain, and that it's okay for her to feel that.

Telling a child, "Stop crying, it doesn't hurt, it's just a little bump," contradicts the child's feelings, and makes it difficult for children to learn to deal with their feelings. Just follow the child's natural signals with love and trust them when they show that they do or don't need help.

Bag of Rocks

Cimion (our oldest son-14 years old) is struggling with a lot of emotional baggage. I don't want to get into specific details here but his inability to control his anger is leading him down a path that the rest of us are unwilling to follow. When we adopted him three years ago, we knew he had issues to deal with and we have done more to help him than we even thought we had in us.

Someone e-mailed this to me (thank you T) and I wanted to share it here because it gives insight to what he, and others like him, deal with everyday.

A Bag of Rocks
When you carry a bag of rocks around, day in and day out, you will inevitably become tired. No matter how far you walk, how hard you work, how much you try, you are still tired. Even sleep is ineffective, because you are sleeping with your bag of rocks, and when you wake in the morning you continue throughout the day carrying the bag of rocks.

Some people would ask, "Why not just let go of the bag of rocks? Stop carrying it around with you, just put them down. Can't you see that would make it easier?" But, you see, I am afraid that if I let go of the rocks there will be nothing left. The rocks are all that I have, all that I have carried with me throughout my life, all that I trust. Certainly, carrying these rocks around makes me tired. But being tired is familiar, and safe. Would you let go of all that you have in the world, if you were not certain that by doing so you would gain more?

And yet (the irony is) we cannot have the certainty of more, until we let go of what we have. As long as I am carrying this bag of rocks, my arms are much too full for me to accept anything else. Even when you offer me a bag of feathers I don't dare to take it, for how can I trust that the load you are offering me is truly a load of feathers without opening the bag? Others have offered feathers, but given lead. How can I know that the bag you offer is not heavier than my current burden unless I let go of my bag of rocks, freeing my hands to open your bag? And I cannot let go of my bag, for if I put it down it might be taken from me. Or, even worse, I may find that my arms ace far too much for me to pick up the bag again, and then I would have nothing.

Can you understand why I would despair? You ask me to give up all that I believe that I have, all that I believe that I am, and yet I cannot. The fear of having nothing--of being nothing--is far too great. You want me to give up my hatred, my anger, and my pain (but most of all my pain, for the hatred and anger are mere masks for the grief and fear I hold inside). It will make me better, you say. And yet, how can I trust you, without first giving up all that I am holding on to? And how can I give up all that I am holding, if I do not trust you? Can you not see the confusion I am living with, the overwhelming fear that controls my actions? Can you not see why I push you away? Why I cause harm to myself, and to you? Can you not see why I am afraid?

Please understand, I don't want it to be this way. I do want more, I really do. Perhaps you may have noticied how hard I try, before the despair seems too much to bear, before I give in. If only I could give up these rocks, I would have peace. I would be happy. I want to belive it, but I can't. So I continue walking, dragging my bag of rocks, and wishing for something I can never have.

I wrote this just over a year ago, as an attempt to explain to my therapist why I was holding on to so many of my destructive behaviors so stubbornly. I finally found the courage to let go of the bag and try something new--and yet at times I still go back to that bag of rocks, because it is so familiar and safe, and the new ways are still uncomfortable and scary. I am considering adding more to this piece--as I no longer feel the hopelessness I ended on a year ago. In
the meantime, I hope perhaps the piece can help parents of RADs (reactive attachement disorder) understand why it is so difficult for their children to trust, and why they may fight so hard against what you can clearly see is best for them.

I'm going to share this on my adoption board as well because I think it's such an important reminder to parents of hurting children to remember it's not about us and even though it's hard, we can not take it personally.



We picked up this origami book at the library, dug out a pack of paper that we bought on clearance and Billy sat down with the girls to try their hand at it. None of them had ever done it before so they chose an easy one to start with, which happened to be a frog. Billy's in the black one, Jacqueline's is green and Shawna's is blue.

They're trying to see whose frog can hop the farthest. Looks like Shawna won. :-)

romaine lettuce

I finally got around to planting the romaine lettuce I bought last weekend. We have quite a few SWA (squirells with an attitude) around here, so Billy built a cage around the lettuce to keep them out. I'm not sure if it's going to work though. When we removed their favorite watering hole by screening in our pool last summer, they got back at us by biting and scratching through the screen to get in and have a drink. After we had it fixed, we had to leave water all around the screen room just so they wouldn't do it again. They're pretty smart those SWA. They got us to give them fresh water everyday. lol

I bought two lettuce plants for now, and if I can somehow manage to not kill them (before the SWA eat them) I may buy more. I've posted about my black thumb before so wish me luck. lol

21st annual Medieval Faire

Over the weekend we attended the 21st annual Medieval Faire. The weather was a bit cloudy and Jacqueline was getting over a cough but we still enjoyed ourselves.

Fire eating

She showed us how they made medicine out of herbs and fruit.
Looking at bows and arrows.

Equestrian games

This guy was cool. He asked the girls if they wanted their fortunes told and pulled out a pendant for each of them to wear. He told Jacqueline that she will leave the world a better place than she found it and told Shawna she is a protector to those to small or weak to defend themselves. :-)

Dragon ride

Playing with sharp things

Making baskets

The Privie...when ya gotta go, you gotta go.

Hanging with the locals

The Roman army getting ready for the living chess game.

Chess can be so violent. ;-)

We're definitely going back next year. The girls want to dress up next time so we have a whole year to look for outfits. :-)

It's beginning to look a lot like...

...Valentine's Day. :-)

Our V.Day decorations were up to high to reach so we decided to make our own Valentine messages, (until Billy gets home and gets them down). We used watercolor paint and various heart stickers.
Shawna's is on the top, Jacqueline's in the middle and mine is the one on the bottom.

Simple, but we like it. :-)


Links to Unschooling Voices #7

Thank you to the following bloggers for linking back to Unschooling Voices #7. If you're not listed, please leave the link in a comment and I'll be sure to add you . Thanks so much!!

This month I'll be working on an Unschooling Voices blog ring. I'll have more information about it with Unschooling Voices #8.

Wired for Noise
Avec Mes Zebres
Life is Learning, Learning is Life Year-round
Why Homeschool
Throwing Marshmellows
Dare to Know
Just Enough and Nothing More
Zamozo on Unschooling

Related Tags: , , , , , , ,


Unschooling Voices # 7: Deschooling

Welcome!! :-)

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, please keep in mind that everyone who participated is at a different place in their unschooling journey.

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. :-) I'll be creating a blog ring just for participants of Unschooling Voices which will be available when the next edition comes out.

This month's (always optional) question was on deschooling…either yours, your child’s or both. Tell us about it. What is/was it like? Personally, I found that I needed to deschool more than my kids. Do you find that to be true?

This edition of UV had 19 participants and 21 submissions

Let'st start off with our
five e-mail submissions. They were from Laura, Raquel, Karen, Sherry and Kim.

Sarah sent in her
submission with thoughts about her own deschooling process.

Meredith, (whose posts I enjoy reading on Unschooling Basics) blogs about deschooling along side her 13 year old stepson.

Nancy submitted two (I love it when participants send in more than one) blog posts.
The first , she says "reflects my thoughts about all the resources that are available to new and potential homeschoolers and how that ties in with being obsessed about learning". The second "is a collection of random thoughts I recognized after attending my first homeschool convention last summer". Nancy also had this to say "I consider myself to be in the process of deschooling. My
children are still preschool age, so we are exploring many things. I hope to continue this exploration through our entire homeschooling time".

Beth shares her honest thoughts about her deschooling journey.

Sally writes about "how we have de-schooled (and de-universitied) simultaneously with our eldest daughter, who is now in Delhi instead, and how it has strengthened our relationships and our intention to avoid schooling her younger siblings, who have never been to school".

Cher has a "couple of thoughts from the summer about our experiences with deschooling. We found it doesn't follow a hard and fast rule, but like everything else about unschooling, is a completely individual journey"!

Mandy writes about "our journey from public school, to eclectic homeschooling, to charter, to unschooling. And how as a mother the deschooling has been more of an obstacle for me rather than for my children. Deschooling math was the biggest obstacle for my daughter, who I recently heard, after playing with her Bratz laptop, "Mom, this makes learning fun!"

Chris submitted two very thoughtful and interesting blog posts on deschooling.
Here is one and the other is here.

Melissa writes very openly about "deschooling me".

Rachel says "this is about our transition from school to feeling comfortable with unschooling with young children. Trusting the process but not seeing the process work. Waiting and changing our approach. Experiencing a new way to parent. Watching peace trickle in. Recovering love."

I'll bring up the rear on this months topic
with a post about my deschooling path and how it started.

Now on to the three rebels who didn't post about the topic of the month. :-)

Summer aka
Mama Chaos submits an article she wrote titled "Unschooling:What is it and is it Right for You"?

JoVE writes about "paradoxes of unschooling".

Kim blogged about her top ten homeschooling mistakes.

I really enjoyed reading everyone's submissions this month and I think this was a great edition. Thank you to everyone who participated. I hope to see all of you again next month.

Unschooling Voices # 8 will be out March 1st. I've posted two questions, one is something fun and the other is an topic that comes up often. To add your voice (and read past editions),
please click here.

To help people find out more about unschooling, I created a
Google Co-op and a Squidoo page on Unschooling. You can add the link to your unschooling blog or site to both pages.
Also add the unschooling sites you like visiting. It's brand spanking new and I've added a little bit to both sites for now but I'll be adding more next week. If you see any mistakes or such, please let me know. The Squidoo "lens" (as they're called) is more interactive. If you can, please add a link from your blog or site. Thanks!

Related Tags:
, , , , , , ,

Hook Rugging

Both Jacqueline and Shawna have hook rug kits that they got for Christmas (Shawna got her's last year and Jacqueline got one this past Christmas). Shawna wasn't very interested in doing it last year but she picked it up again a few weeks ago and started doing it. Her's is a dog and she's going to try and make it into a pillow.

Daytona Speedway '07

Billy and Cimion, along with our friends Chris and Lance, went on their annual trip to Daytona Speedway for the 5K Run/Fun Walk and the Rolex 24, which is a 24 hour race. They camped out at the speedway this year, unlike last year where they only stayed for the day. Next year they're planning on spending two nights. :-)
I'll post some pictures as soon as Chris e-mails them to me.

Lance is Cimion's former foster brother and he was adopted by a couple who live near us. We have all stayed in touch and become friends. :-)

Day 174

Jacqueline's friend Jasmine (in the middle) slept over again this part weekend and I just had to share this picture of them, alone with Shawna (on the left), in the hot tub. Everytime Jasmine comes over, she brings her bathing suit and asks to go in. :-)

Flea Market Find

The girls and I visted the local flea and farmers market again this weekend and I picked up some grape tomatoes and a bunch of bananas.

I bought this for 25 cents. It says "The foundation of a happy home is built one step at a time".

I also picked up this little cutie for 25 cents also. Her sign says "Live well, laugh often. love much".

Against my better judgement, I bought two romaine plants. Keep them in your thoughts. Plants need to have a strong will to survive in my garden. lol