Since I can’t seem to keep myself writing on any regular basis, I’ll stick to publishing shorts.
-We are staying busy swimming, swimming and swimming. And now climbing. Yeah, every time we’d go to the university pool to swim, we had to stop and watch who ever was climbing. Yesterday, one of the guys working that area asked if Little Man wanted to climb, and he did! We went back today and he worked really hard at it. He never got all the high, but he’s figuring it out, and working all his muscles to fatigue. This is the first thing we’ve found that really pushes him that hard.
-On July 5, we got to join the youth group to set off firecrackers. Little Man really enjoys them and found that the little smoke bombs he could light himself, until he got a spark on his hand. That reduced his enjoyment some.
-What, you don’t watch someone else on the computer while sitting on their shoulders? This is the preferred watching position of Little Man these days.
-I was told on this day, “I am an artist.” And when he had finished he said, “I’m done being an artist.” I had always assumed ‘artist’ was a more permanent descriptor, but I guess I was wrong.
Yes, I’m wearing shorts more often, but this is more short blurbs about life right now. And no pictures of me in shorts because it might blind you. Its still somewhat early spring.
Little Man is still totally in love with water. He is all about water play, which means turning on the hose and watching the water flow. We shut down our raised beds a year ago, and they’ve over grown with grass, but I did dig up a 2’x2′ square so he would have access to loose dirt to play in. Yes, and mud. Since the area was ‘raised’, there is an incline to watch the water flow down as it floods the dug up area. He would stay at that for hours if he didn’t get cold. Yes, the boy has found the ability to get cold… when its 70′, cloudy and he is wet.
We are doing more ‘science experiments’ these days. Little Man is interested in different things and I’m just going for it. We made Oobleck (even made it green!), a paper mache volcano (we did make it errupt!) and we have three Forest Tent catepillars in a big jar on the table, and a Swallowtail butterfly catepillar also in a big jar on the table. No we aren’t doing any kind of worksheets, but we are learning and talking about the natural world.
I mentioned life being unpredictable lately in my last post. I thought I might offer more explanation of it. For the past year, we have been ‘approved and waiting’ for domestic infant adoption. About 6 months ago, God started working in our hearts to consider embryo adoption. After losing a baby to early miscarriage in June 2013, we are starkly aware of the emotional risk and the resulting grief of losing a baby. We reached a point recently where we realized we were ready to take on that risk and the possibility of such grief. And so, right now, we are in the midst of the application process for embryo adoption. Of course, we are also doing all kinds of thinking on the ethics of IVF, fertility clinics, and our society’s attitudes towards babies in the embryo stage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to more fully articulate our thoughts, but its such a deep, intense, and sensitive set of topics, its rather scary to approach.
I got a hair cut today. This is monumental because I’ve cut my own hair for the past 5 years. I decided this was what I wanted. My goal is to grow and donate my hair for as long as I can, and this is the 4th time I’ve been able to do this. A before picture….
I do think my hair is getting curlier as I get older.
What are you up to?
I’m finding that I have a love-hate relationship with a wide variety of tasks… blogging, vacuuming, laundry, goal setting. I find that these things I have this love-hate relationship with are such that I dislike doing it, but I *love* it when the task is done. I don’t really like to vacuum, but I love freshly vacuumed carpets. I don’t like sweeping and mopping, but I love freshly swept and mopped tile floor. Also, I love posting my stories and my ramblings, but getting them to a postable stage is an arduous task. And its hard to remember, at times, that things worth doing are often hard things to do. Yeah, I dislike vacuuming and laundry (and most other household chores) because they are dull and boring to do. That can be remedied with a podcast or audio book.
However, I’ve not completely figured out how to remedy this love-hate relationship with blogging and goal setting. And they are intimately connected, unfortunately. I love to set goals so that I can feel purposeful and intentional about my activities and course of daily life. I want to know what needs to get done, what I want to get done, and what I did get done. But I don’t want to have to set goals, nor look at them when I don’t meet them. I’m not thinking of writing out goals right now; life is just too unpredictable. And if I set goals and don’t reach them, that leaves me feeling blah… so I’m not doing “goals”.
But blogging is an outlet, a chance for me to declare to noone in particular “hey, look at me, I vacuumed this week!” And if I’ve set goals, I get to declare “I not only decided I was going to vacuum this week, but I actually did it! Look at me!” And, of course, if I don’t meet my goals, I just don’t blog about it. Blogging is also a creative outlet, yes, but I don’t want my blogging to be just about me getting things done, or merely me expressing my own creativity.
I would love for my blogging to have such focused purposes as encouraging women to love their husbands, or challenging the reader’s thoughts on this or that deep topic… alas, to choose one such area is not for me. Being a stay-at-home-mom suits me quite well, because the general topics I cover in any one day vary tremendously. And so, my blogging will reflect this diversity. For better or for worse.
During this 8 month hiatus, I didn’t write. In fact, the last draft of a blog post I have is from last September, so you see, I haven’t written in quite a few months. But I did do a lot of other things, from several work projects, reading a slew of books, enjoying the time with my family, and thinking deeply about a variety of topics. I hope to start writing again about all these things. I want to start writing again. I’m ready, I think, to do the hard thing that is worth doing.
So, expect a variety of posts. Some about day to day life, some about deep issues. Sometimes I have conversations with friends and family that I want to write about. Sometimes I read something I want to write about. Sometimes, its an idea that came out of the blue. So, I’m going to work on this discipline of making time, sitting down and writing.
I’ve been reading a lot about “project based homeschooling” (PBH). The basic idea is that you let your child pursue topics as their interest takes them, and let them create as their interests prompt them. It fits well with ‘unschooling’, which is also all about child-led learning. The website I’m mostly working from is Project Based Homeschooling. I’m in the facebook group, also, and its been a ton of fun interacting over these ideas. I did the journalling class and the drawing class in June, and found myself quite inspired.
Of course, I’ve also realized that this is how I normally pursue my ideas. Its really bugged me in the past that I’m crazy into some topic, then the interest wains, and then I’m into another topic. But then, in talking with my Dad, we determined that I’m doomed… he’s that way, too. I have a few lasting interests, but what might be my overriding interest of the moment can vary.
Little Man hasn’t found his topic to pursue yet, unless sand + water counts (it very well might, he’s very interested in putting a ‘lake’ in his sand bin currently, and its taking some thought on how to keep the sand sides up and the water from soaking into the sand).
On the other hand, I have found my new topic: wood working. A friend who was moving gave me a fine particle compressed wood board that struck me as the perfect top to a small table for Little Man (for whom I’m considering the nickname of ‘Young Grasshopper’ — he loves jumping). This prompted me to start thinking about if I could build a table. It helps that my Dad is a carpenter, so I have a source of advice and information at my cell-phone-fingertips.
One of the things that is a big deal in PBH is journalling or documenting the project and learning. I’m still figuring out how that works. I might just use the blog…. then I don’t have to get pictures developed (if I worked in a paper journal), and its something I (sorta) already do.
All that said, here’s a bit of the woodworking that’s been going on…
I’m actually using a design my Dad put together. He added a support piece and a different way of attaching the legs and table top.
A random collection of short burbs from my life of late. Mostly unfiltered.
–Last night, I started dinner by cutting up chicken, getting out the pan, putting a tbsp or two of oil in the pan and turning on the burner. I began wondering what they smell was, and why wasn’t my oil in the pan looking hot. It was nearly 5 minutes later when I realized I’d turned on the wrong burner. I’d turned on the burner that I’d set the plastic oil bottle on… I lost about 1/2 gallon of oil to the top of the stove, which, luckily, has sides high enough to contain most of the oil. I’m grateful we live in a place such that the loss of so much oil was disappointing and a stink to clean up, but it did not limit my ability to cook or provide food, nor will it.
–We have learned that water balloons last longer in a pool of water than not. Of course, if you leave the balloons in the pool all day, they all deflate. Though if that is due to osmosis or weaking of the latex, I don’t know.
— I was walking across the yard when I realized on particular step sounded like I was stepping on plastic. The step felt like it, too. So I stooped to look and poke at the ground. Sure enough, there was a bottle buried in the yard. Several years ago I found a spark plug while digging up the garden. Not sure if I should thank the owners of the land from before the house was built or the construction crew or, perhaps both. I’m guessing the previous owners provided the spark plug and construction crew provided the bottle formerly containing Mountain Dew.
— When Little Man and I head outside, I usually imagine I will sit and read. But I always find something else to do. Most recently, I took apart our 8 year old box fan and cleaned it. Oh, it was gross.
— Earlier this week, I was chatting with a friend about raising a little boy and she mentioned “It sounds like he’s bored, really.” It was like a light bulb. So, I got more sand for our sand bin/table. He will happily play for an hour… quiet… as in not talking… and I get to read, quietly, without distraction. Why did I let the sand run out and not get more? Oh, yeah, teaching conservation….
— I found myself reflecting on my general inability to keep my dining room table cleared off. My mom had us clear the table off *every day* for dinner. And we put all the stuff away *every day*. I think I might be physically incapable of such a feat. I am thankful we have a large enough table that we can just move most of the stuff to the far end and sit at the near end to eat. (this is a picture after I’d been working on clearing if off for 10 minutes or so.)
— Little Man is into ‘creating creations’. Yes, those are his works to describe a particular painting of his. This is a recent duplo creation. I didn’t think to have him tell me about it at the time, so we can only guess what he was thinking of.
— More fun “science”: rooting an avocado seed.
— And we played with modeling clay. He started out making ‘snakes’, but they became snails soon after. Family member might begin receiving clay snail when they finally dry. :D
— Really, life is going well. I’m getting reading done and enjoying. I’m exploring new ideas, and reviving old ones (got my sewing machine fixed!).
Its been a week or more since the Hubby and I talked about this, but its been on my mind. In education these days, or at least this is the way it seems to me, reading, writing and math are taught as the goal of the teaching. A young man stopped by a week or so ago trying to sell us books to teach Little Man to read… they were colorful, bilingual and relevant topics (supposedly — shapes, colors, dinosaurs). But the goal was teaching reading. For car trips, I’ve picked up ‘preschool’ level books, with space to color and stickers to stick on for ‘A, B, Cs’ and ‘Math!’. The goal is to teach reading, writing and math.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it lessens the value of these subjects. Alone, what is it worth to just write? or just do sums? or just read? Okay, I get great pleasure from merely reading, but then it is mostly entertainment.
The value could be so much more, though. If we, as we teach, approach teaching these subjects as means to greater ends, however, their value increases exponentially. One caveat though… the greater ends must be worthy in themselves.
Yeah, gotta bring it back to ‘unschooling’. Its all about approach. After we seek to teach our children about how to BE, then we can teach our children how to DO. And its about doing something. Perhaps it is finding pleasure and entertainment in reading that we are teaching. Perhaps it is about becoming a better person, knowing human nature, or knowing God. Perhaps it is running a household or keeping track of spending, income or investments.
Anyhoo, that’s it. Lets change our approach. Don’t teach reading, writing and math as the end, but as the means to a greater end.
What is ‘unschooling’? I can see this question in people’s faces regularly when I mention it. A young man stopped by last week to try and sell us books “designed” to keep your child interested in reading and learning. When I said, “well, we prefer to have living books around here that we learn from. So, I don’t think your books are a good fit for us right now.” I also name dropped “Charlotte Mason” in there, and the poor young man was very quick to leave at that point. I never mentioned ‘unschooling’ to him, but that might have made him run from our home even faster.
I had a friend write me what ‘unschooling’ is and how its different from self-directed learning and traditional schooling. That is a huge question, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer it…. yet.
Here is the beginning of an answer.
In the book “Unschooling Rules: 55 ways to unlearn what we know about schools and rediscover education”, Clark Aldrick argues that we must first teach children how to BE. Then, we can teach them to DO, and after that we can teach them to KNOW. (Generally, these days, education seems to be all concerned about what children KNOW, but doesn’t address the first two.) I think he’s got something very right here, but as he expands the idea he sets the bar awfully low. Aldrick states that learning to BE is about learning what you love, what you are good at, what you dream, and your role in a group (or larger society, even?). Really, though the question(s) could be much bigger… ‘Who am I?” “Who am I made to be?” “Where do I find my worth?” “From what place do I interact with others and how does that affect how I should treat others?”
Who do I want my child to be? I want my children to grow to be upright, God-fearing members of society (moral development!). I want them to be emotionally healthy members of society (emotional development). Whether any of my children got to college, or beyond, is more about what they choose and I will strive to provide the foundation so they can go in whatever direction they want, but, really, that is secondary (intellectual/academic development). I think ‘unschooling’ addresses the intellectual/academic development properly, letting children work in a way that is more self-directed, at their own pace, and according to their own interests.
How does this work in real life? Seriously, what three year old actually has any idea of what they want to learn about? If he had his druthers he’d sit around watching movies and eating peanut butter and candy canes (and starbursts and chocolate chips… you get the idea). Really, he isn’t going to learn to be a God-fearing, upright member of society on his own. Some teaching of some kind is needed, I think. There are certain things that I think are necessary things for a child to learn, and other things that are truly optional. Character is necessary, academics are optional.
It all comes down to being intentional. I don’t expect a child to just pick up good character and faith in God, especially not if I’m not living it. And I can’t expect my child to listen to my words if my life doesn’t reflect the same message. The book “Sticky Faith” discusses this extensively, and its not my purpose to retell what that books has to say (its worth reading as a parent or grandparent who desires to see an active faith passed on). A very simplified version is “live it out, talk about it, invite them along for the ride”.
Academics work the same way. If I’m not living a life of learning, how can I expect my child to? The best way to educate my child is to live it out, talk about it, and invite him along for the ride. No, this doesn’t mean I have to be all into mud like my child is. But it does mean he should be seeing me read, seeing me study, watch me be a learner. Then, I can talk about what I’m learning (no, he’s not interested in the history of the Renaissance era), and how I’m enjoying it. I can also talk about what we might do, like build a fort, blow bubbles or do paper mache. And then I invite him to do it with me. We practice taking turns as we take turns with the different items used to blow bubbles. We learn to work together as he wields the glue and I put down the craft sticks. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to invite him to do paper mache with me, that will be very messy.
This is unschooling. Live a life of learning. Talk about it. Invite others along for the ride. This is how faith is passed on. Live a life of faith. Talk about it. Invite others along for the ride.
A fun week. A full week. I hope not every week is this busy.
We built a fort from ‘craft sticks’. Yes, Little Man wielded the glue for most of the building.
Towards the end, I just let him build it himself. It has a very creative design, I must say.
He decided at one point that he didn’t have enough blocks.
We tried some ‘giant bubble solution’. It might be because I wasn’t using actual blue Dawn, but they most all popped as soon as they came off the bubble blowing device. The string-straw device didn’t work all that great, though perhaps my straws were wimpier than the ones another blogger used.
The PVC pipe made the best bubbles and was easiest to use. I knew I was keeping that short bit around for some reason!
Standing on ones hands has become a key skill to be developed in our house these days.
I finally got *both* of my sewing machines in for repairs. Though while checking them in at the store, I found that one machine didn’t have a pressure foot. So, back the next day we went to drop off the pressure foot. We had some time, so we stayed to look. I was totally eyeing up a serger and the gal offered to demonstrate it for me. Little Man wasn’t being the most cooperative, so she said to an early-teens-or-so gal to go get the box of toys. Then the gal sat down and played with Little Man while her mom, turns out, demonstrated the use of the serger. When the gal got bored, her brother stepped in and he and Little Man built trucks, trains and buildings from duplos. And I got to see a new serger in action. If you are in Waco, and are in need of sewing machine service or are wanting to buy a machine, go to the Bernina store on Waco Drive. I was very impressed with their service.
I ended up tossing the water bottle. I found a crack along the bottom, which sealed its fate. :::sigh:::
This water bottle has been with me for 15 years. I purchased it, emblazoned with an OMF International logo on it, in June 1999… on my way to mainland China for the summer. In Hong Kong, I scratched the logo off, for, hopefully, obvious reasons.
I love this water bottle. I like the small neck and the short size. It is easy to drink from, and fits in most bags easily. The fatness of the bottle makes it hard to fit in cup holders, but that is more a nuisance than a problem. Yes, it was full of BPA, but noone new any better back then, and the bottle has been through. (Though I heard via my sister that I someone decided that BPA-free bottles aren’t good for you either. I like the idea of glass, but not for my three year old.) And finally, it has suffered a fatal injury — at the hands of a three year old. Its amazing what else this water bottle has survived, but, apparently, the rough housing of a little boy was too much for it.
This crack leaks, and has been leaking lightly for several months. But now it now leaks rather copiously, as I discovered at the zoo today from the amount of water in my bag. If you happen to drink with the crack down, it will leak water down your chin, which is just no fun. I hate to throw out such a loved item, so I’m trying hard to think of an alternative use for it, since it just won’t work as a traveling water bottle any more. I know I need to give myself a deadline… if I don’t figure out a use before [set a date], it gets thrown out. I think I’ll give myself a week. I’ll let you know what I come up with. :P
I have a post about unschooling and its underpinnings brewing in my head and in evernote, but that’s going to take a bit of work to finish. And a bit more reading.
Today, I realized that my life (daily life, weekly routines/rhythm) runs in a predicable cycle. Something like this….
Now, this more reflects my feelings and my own perception of the situation, not the true fact of the situation. I suspect that someone who is not me would say that nothing actually changes.
Usually, there is some event that precipitates the change from ‘coasting’ to ‘ugh’. Perhaps it a busy week or two, or an illness that slows us all down. It could even be as simple as me forgetting to do something, or a day when I just want to read all day and do nothing else… anything that ‘throws me off my rhythm’.
Having realized this (yes, just today…) I’m thinking I need to figure out how to take the throwing off moments in stride, or working through those stages of ‘ugh’ in the matter of an afternoon (or, be all kinds of supermom and work through the ugh stages in my head in a matter of minutes!).
I’m interested to hear if others experience this kind of cycle or rhythm in their lives and how they deal with it (or perhaps you don’t — oh, to be able to live in such a natural state). How does one deal with children who’s demands don’t fluctuate on the same schedule? Is this a product of my own personality or the way to do things?
and of course, it could be that I’m over thinking all of it.
I mentioned in my last post that I hadn’t figured out a good ‘science’ activity for this week, yet. Well, one sorta got sprung on me. See if you can figure out what ‘science’ is going on here:
That evening, I told Hubby “Our science activity today just happened on a whim. We observed the effects of sediment on the flow of water.”
“You mean you made mud?”
We are still finding our summer rhythm… 5 weeks into our ‘summer’. The Hubby finished with his teaching duties back in the beginning of May, but with moving people out of houses and apartments and just general life, we never found ‘normal’. This week is finding a ‘normal’. And its so refreshing and nice.
Apart of finding normal is figuring out our daily rhythm when we are at home all day (Little Man and I, that is. Hubby is going into school to read and write that dissertation — home stretch!). This morning, Little Man declares he wants to finger paint. I’m totally good with this — fine motor skill development, creativity, a sensory experience and who-knows what other benefit is to be found in finger painting. He started smearing the paint up his arms (yes, I can handle this…) and I decided we’d go outside to clean up. I step away for about a minute (maybe 2) and come back to find….
Paint in his hair and all over his face. :::sigh::: After I took the picture he says “I want to see it!” Its a bit scary how much he knows about how the camera and phones work.
Last summer, we spent a lot of time out under the trees. These are huge Live Oak trees and they tend to sprawl outwards as much as upwards. And they cast a deep, deep shadow on the area underneath, which can easily be 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the areas in the sun. After the rain we got on Sunday morning and 2 cool nights, the breeze is still cool, which makes sitting out under the trees a very enjoyable experience.
I’m thinking through what ‘science’ activity we might do this week. Maybe we will just focus on the general experience and less on any sort of discovery. I picked up to browse “The Well-trained Mind: A guide to classical education at home”. Its been good to read and remind myself of what is come and general expectations (knowing it could easily be a year or two off for any one child). At the same time, I picked up Natural Born Learners (free from amazon kindle last week. $3.99 now), which is a series of essays on unschooling. I’m philosophically attracted to both theories, and there seems to be one, very important, underlying assumption that is different between the two. In fact, I think its the assumption that sets unschooling apart from every other educational philosophy. The assumption is about how children learn (of course!), unschooling assumes that a child will learn. You put the information out there, you provide some interesting question and a child will learn. No teaching needed, no special methods needed, no formal sit-down-and-work needed. Children will learn whether you want them to or not. Every other philosophy assumes that if you (or someone) doesn’t “teach” it, the child won’t learn it. How you “teach” it varies from theory to theory. I put ‘teach’ in quotes because in some theories, its not what we imagine when we use the word ‘teach’, but its some form of active presentation of the material to the child. I suspect that I’m drastically simplifying the assumptions here and it might be that this basic assumption creates a continuum along which philosophies lie — some at extreme ends of you have to beat it into a child and the other end of not being intentional about presenting any new material. As I explore this, I hope to write about it. I feel like there is plenty written about all these things so I don’t need to add it, but I have this quite voice in my mind saying I can present a different view point which might help someone. Who knows… though we will find out!
Of course, the book I’m currently devouring is ‘The History of the Renaissance World’, but S.W. Bauer (same author as well-trained mind). I totally plan on purchasing all her history books… Ancient, Medievel and Renaissance is out. I’m hoping “modern” or some version is to be out soonish. Though it will take me a while to get through these three. The Renaissance book is *fat* at about 2 inches thick and 688 pages of text. The last 1/2 inch is notes, works cited and index.
And, if you are on goodreads.com, look for me (https://www.goodreads.com/friend/i?i=LTM2MDQ2MTUzNTg6MzY1) and if you aren’t on goodreads.com — you should be as its a great way to keep track of what you’ve read, what you want to read and what you are currently reading.