Monday, April 29, 2013

aren't you just lazy?

So, people give you some pretty weird looks and comments when you mention that you are unschooling. Many people aren't even sure what that is and it really just sounds like lazy parenting to them.

*You aren't making your kids do 50 math problems a day??  That is basically child abuse!
*How on Earth will they actually learn anything?
*Do you even bathe your kids?
*That's just laziness. Real parents sit down and force learning on their kids!

Babies learn. Think about the incredible amount of things your baby learned in that first year!!  Just in the first year!

Why do we think natural learning stops? Why do we think we need to turn our children over to the government for proper teaching? And why do we think the best way to learn is through boring repetition and useless information?

As I have said before, I had to memorize the entire periodic table in seventh grade. I have not used it since. I don't need to know the atomic weight of Francium.

So, why learn this stuff? Why make our kids learn it? Because the government said that is what they need to learn? I'm sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

My kids are learning. They are learning a lot. The difference is that they are learning what they are passionate about. And we are relaxed about it. I'm not worried that Super J (6) isn't where his friends are in math. He is way ahead of them in Science and Nature- because that is what he is passionate about.

We will get to the things we need to learn. We will cover the stuff that it is important. And we will do it in a way that works for them.

We are learning about money by using it. Going to the store. Comparing prices. Talking about wise spending and saving. Not by looking at some numbers on a worksheet.

We are learning science by doing it. We experiment every day. And the kids are constantly in the kitchen with me- mixing, measuring, experimenting.

Can they go to college like this? You betcha! Will they want to? I have no idea. If their passion requires it, sure. If not, they could just go into an internship or something similar. Or trade school.

They have plenty of choices. And they are more involved in their education and have more freedom than any public schooler.

Is it lazy? Not at all. In fact, it requires a lot more work at times. I have to find ways over and over to learn about the same passion. My son is obsessed with animals. And we have done every animal project I can think of. And every day I have to come up with new ones.

So, go ahead. Judge us if you want. We are too busy learning and having fun to worry about it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


I have heard from several people lately about silent lunches.

What kind of lunches??

Apparently, now children are being asked to sit boy girl boy girl at lunch. And to eat without speaking.

Some schools are playing music. Wow. That's great. That really makes up for taking away what tiny bit of freedom these kids already have. Music. Stellar decision there, powers that be. But don't talk during that music. Or you will get punished.

They say it is for safety and so the kids will actually eat and not get up.

I'm just disgusted. The schools already have too much power over little kids anyway. And now they are taking away one of the tiny little perks of the day.

Lunch should be fun! You should get to hang out with your buds. Joke around. Trade food.

But, no dear public school. Let's just suck the fun out of lunch, too.

Friday, April 26, 2013

In the works

As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you miss most of your life. ~Buddha

So, this is what I'm working on. I've been working on it for a long time.

I got that piece of advice a few years ago from a dear friend regarding my, at that time, business. What ever you are doing- do it. Be there. Be fully present playing with your kids. Be fully present in working. Be where you are.

I have a bit of an addictive personality. I don't mean that I have ever truly dealt with a debilitating addiction such as drugs or anything like that. But I easily get sucked into things. I used to play SIMS before I had kids and I would get so wrapped up that I would play for hours! I would play at living. How dumb is that?

Electronics are a suck for me. They reel me in. And I use my phone take pictures to document our lives. So, I'm not going to put that one down without a struggle.

But I'm trying to step away. To ignore the ding of the new message. To ignore what every one else is doing on facebook.

I still check. Frequently. But I'm spending less time there. I'm there for a couple of minutes.

And then I'm back to slaying dragons. Or planning a zoo. Or giving belly kisses.

I love those belly kisses.

Now, I can't be fully present when doing anything else. I'm a mom. So, I have little ones hanging off of me and needing me while I make dinner or clean or fold laundry or do anything else.

So, I'm trying to take time for me, too.  It's a challenge, but I feel like we need to recharge. We need to be there for ourselves, too.

And now the baby is up. And that belly won't kiss itself.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

follow up to warts

Well, y'all sure know how to make a gal feel better! Thanks so much for all the encouragement!

We did a lot of talking while Super J was sitting at the table. We talked on and off all day. He was there for hours. He did have books to read, but nothing else.

Oh, and I don't think it helped that I am running on little sleep. Sugar Britches is still teething like a bear! I didn't sleep more than 30 minutes consecutively the night before this incident. And she has been crazed like this at night for more than a week.

The Mad Scientist came home and talked with him.  Then during dinner we talked in front of him. I wanted him to see the heartache this caused and see the process of us trying to parent.

Other than pretty mild stuff, he really has never had to be punished. I thought last week after the violent episode, he had enough. But there is obviously still something going on.

A friend and I were talking. She thinks Super J is trying to gain some independence. (He is special needs and has had to have more help during his life than most- for instance, he still can't ride a bike.) I asked him and he said that was it. But I'm not sure if that was really it or if he was just saying that because I asked him. It make sense, but I'm not positive.

We talked and talked more.  I explained to Super J that he has a right and obligation to question authority- even us. But he needs to be careful in the manner in which he questions. Questioning is good. Being rude and hateful are inexcusable.

We decided that the "grounding" was sufficient, but we did take away outside playtime with friends for the next two days. (One of his favorite things.)  There was a lot of crying and talking and crying and talking.

He says he gets it. He realizes how much his words and actions have hurt me lately. He is a very kind-hearted person.

I hope we are there. I hope he understands. I don't want to go through this again.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Warts and all

Super J (6) is going through something. I'm not sure what is going on with him.

Usually he practically has a halo following him around.

But lately? He's started with these little snide comments and some rude behaviors. Last week he even physically attacked me.

This kid is darn near perfect, so I really haven't known what to make of it.

And today? Well, today we got kicked out of Fernbank Museum.

We went there to meet some new homeschool friends. He had a couple of moments where we were having some issues. Nothing too major, though. He had run off and when I tried to talk to him about it, he was very, very rude to me. I told him that he lost treats for the day because of it.

Later, when it was close to time to go, he said he wanted to see an exhibit for a second time. We were taking the last of the friends left on the trip to see the star display. I told him that if he was nice during that time that we could certainly go back to the exhibit again.

He wasn't.

I very matter of factly told him we had to go and couldn't do anything else, because he was choosing to be unkind.

He started getting very upset and said he was going back to the exhibit himself. The elevator came. I calmly told him to get on the elevator, that it was time to go. He grabbed the stroller and started jerking it around screaming that we were staying. A security guard was on the elevator. He stepped out and helped me get in.  At this point (with other people on the very tiny elevator), Super J started screaming. Ear drum bursting, paint peeling, screaming.

I apologized to the other riders.

As we exited the elevator, he laid on the floor and continued to wail. I very calmly held his arm and started pulling him. Tornado started crying from sheer fear of Super J melting down. Sugar Britches started crying. And the security guard continued to usher us out the door and down the steps to the parking lot.

He remarked how calm I was. I looked at him and said, "this is not the good type of calm".

At the car, I had to nurse the baby. Super J was asking for a leaf he had found. This was the first time I turned on him. I told him that we had just been physically removed from a building for his behavior and he better not dare ask me for a single thing.

Great job, mom!

On the way home, I stopped for a rare treat of a drink for tornado. I refused to let Super J have one. I was trying to demonstrate that he didn't get rewarded for poor behavior.

Probably not the best parenting move.

Once we got home, I have made him sit at the dining room table with only books.

I'm hurt. I'm heartbroken at the things he has said to me lately. I don't know what to do.

This is not the way I want to parent, but I don't know what to do.

I don't think he can be allowed to treat people this way.

We have talked a lot.

But we talked a lot after the violence last week. And apparently, it didn't help.

This is me. Warts and all.

Fighting through this parenting thing pretending I know what I'm doing. When I don't have a clue. I'm second guessing myself all the time.

Wanting to give leniency and not wanting to raise a little person that is disrespectful and hateful and horrible to other people.

Wanting peace and finding discord.

Wanting love and being told I'm unlovable.

And trying again tomorrow.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

I am SO sorry for the blog neglect. I am not going to lie. That exchange kicked my tail. It was literally hours and hours and hours worth of work. Totally worth it! But still a ton of work. I just did not have time to do any posting. My apologies! But I will get back to it now that the exchange is mostly done.

In the ever present responses to "oh you homeschool?", one that I get is "I could never do that. I'm not smart enough."

A lot.

So, let me get this straight. The very same system that spit you out after twelve plus years made you "not smart enough" to educate your own child. The very same child that you know better than anyone else in the universe. This child that you watch every day. This child that you know all their quirks and what they are interested in and what they are passionate about. And you can't teach them.

That system failed you. But you think that system is good enough for your child.

Instead of making the world bigger to learn, you made your child smaller to conform. To regurgitate.

And you are trading your child's childhood for that system.

You aren't smart enough. You know what?

Neither am I.

But I will not put my kid into that system. I don't want them to grow up "not smart enough".

We will learn together. The system failed me.

It will not fail my kids. And neither will I.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On a more positive note...

Do you practice positive thinking? Do you implement into your schooling?

I'm a huge believer in positive thinking. I read a book about it when I was in my early 20s and immediately started using it.

And it changed my life.

I was not in a good place back then. And I had a lot (A LOT) of damage to undo.

But I started changing my life simply by changing my mind. I started slowly changing the way I thought about things. It was really difficult at first. And nearly two decades later, it can still be tough. It is really easy to fall into mental traps.

For instance, it is hard to think in your head you have extra money coming in when you are worried about how you are going to pay rent. Or it is hard to think about how relaxed you are when you are super stressed.

But the more you practice, the more you see the rewards and the easier it is to have the faith to see that it works.

I was in a bad relationship when I started. And then I brought my husband into my life.

I was very, very sick with lupus when I started. I took 27 pills a day and was barely able to function on many days.  I haven't taken anything in years for lupus and have very few bad days.

The good news? You don't even have to really believe what you are telling yourself. Just keep saying it. Over and over. a mantra.

Some of my current mantras (some of these are constants and some are just reflecting issues that are going on right now):

We have a great marriage.
I am a peaceful parent.
We are happy.
I am a great mom.
We are healthy.
I am neat and organized.
I am a money magnet.
I am calm and relaxed. (Kind of goes with the peaceful parent one.)

These are the types of things I say to myself. A great time to say them is when you are falling asleep or when you are waking, in that twilight stage. I say them all the time, but I try to make it a point to say them during these times in particular.

"I AM" are the two most powerful words in the universe. What ever you say after those two words creates your reality.  What you speak about or think about is what you bring about.

The other good news? It is never too late to start creating your new reality! You can write your own happy ending!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood..

We live in a strange neighborhood. We chose this neighborhood for its diversity. We didn't want to have our kids grow up in an all white, all Asian, all anything neighborhood. When we drove through this neighborhood, we knew we had found what we wanted.

The houses that are immediately surrounding us are inhabited by a Pakistani family, a Somalian family, Jamaican and black and German. We get some really great food!!

Most of the people are fairly recently immigrated to the US. (Within the last 10-15 years.) Many of them do not even speak our language.

It is a plethora of sights and smells and customs. I love that part of it.

One thing we did not bargain for was the way other kids are raised. There is virtually no parental supervision. I'm all for letting kids have freedom. But you don't come into my yard without proper behavior.

A great many of these kids have very, very few toys. (Not because they can't be afforded, but because they are a waste of time.) Many of them don't celebrate the same holidays. So there are no Easter baskets or Christmas trees.

So, our house is like a magnet. Which is fine. Except when kids come into our yard with rude or bullying behavior.

There is one boy in particular. We'll call him W. When we first moved to the neighborhood he was less than a year and a half old. We saw him every day for hours and hours (seriously like four to six hours) outside riding a big wheel with a bottle. BY HIMSELF!!  We have lived here for seven years and I only found out that he had a mother that lived with him LAST WEEK!

I kind of have a love/ hate relationship with W. I feel very sorry for him and try to extend him some of the attention that he doesn't get at home. But the behavior. It kills me! When he was six years old he was in my yard talking about sex! He is very rude much of the time and he, just to be honest, can get on my nerves.

We offered to take him to the zoo with us this week. (I saw his mother for the first time in almost seven years of living here.) 

It started off well, but then turned into a huge sense of entitlement. "Get me this!" and "I want that!" Which I would understand, if he were spoiled. But he isn't. I kept trying to explain that this was rude behavior and not appreciated, but it continued. Finally I cut the trip a little short and we just left.

I had such high hopes that it would go well and we would be able to take him on other adventures and show him other experiences.

But I don't think I will be offering to take any of the kids anywhere after that.

I know this is kind of rambling, but it would take forever to give the whole story of the neighborhood. I hope my point came across.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Beat That Child"

In an effort to branch out and meet new homeschoolers, the kids and I drove WAY far away last week to attend an impromptu meet up at a park.

It was a bust.

There were other people there, but neither the kids nor I made any new friends. In fact, the other kids were down right rude at times.

Super J (6- closer to 7) went up to a little girl and simply said "hi". She turned around and screamed, yes screamed, in his face "I DON'T CARE!!!!"

So, it was what it was. I told them I wish things had turned out differently but we came all this way, so let's just enjoy the park. We ran around and played and snacked and had a decent time.

After we had been there for quite awhile, there were only two other adults besides me at the playground. Well, there was another set of parents, but they were in the parking lot washing their car while their son spit at Tornado (almost 4) and told him he was going to punch him in the face. Nice. (yes, I intervened. He ran off somewhere in the parking lot.)

So, I could hear the other two parents pretty well. They were fairly close to me and talking fairly loud. They didn't know each other but had just met at the park.

I must have heard the phrase "beat that child" at least eight times. WHAT???? Not only can I not imagine "beating" my child, but to BRAG about it????  To someone you just met?? What is wrong with people!?!?!? They were smoking and cussing and talking about beating children to make them behave and act properly.


One of their children (she just so happened to be the little girl that yelled at Super J for saying "hi") was going around telling the other children she was "pissed". She is four.

Great plan you have there ladies. I can see how that is working out really well. Let's just beat those children into submission. If they don't do what you want them to do, just bully them. I'm sure they will learn some really wonderful lessons there.

I was beat as a kid. I'm adopted now, but my bio dad and step mom used to beat me pretty good.  It was very, very effective as a learning tool.  Know what I learned?


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm not perfect...

So, guess what y'all? 

I'm not perfect. (The title kind of gave it away, huh?)
My house is a mess. And I mean a mess. As in a "I'm completely overwhelmed and will just ignore it because I don't know where to start" kind of mess.

My daughter is almost 8 months old and our room together is no where close to being completed. Granted, I didn't know I was having a girl, but still.

My To Do list is impossibly long. Even if I had three weeks straight of no children and needed no sleep, I'm not sure I could make a good dent in it.

Sometimes I'm just too tired to do anything.

Sometimes my lupus gets the better of me and I spend a lot of the day sleeping. Like today.

Sometimes I don't want to be responsible for every bite that is consumed in this household.

Sometimes I let the kids eat junk.

I second guess myself. And third guess and fourth guess....

I worry about doing what is best for my children.

I'm not perfect.

But I'm trying to forgive myself for these imperfections.  Where has this idea come from that we need to be all things to all people all of the time?  Why do we inflict this upon ourselves? I know it would be easy to blame society (or pinterest!!), but it really is self inflicted. If we all stopped doing it, the pressure from society would be gone.

Because some days I do get some cleaning done. A small victory, but I'm trying to take it.

One day I will have a great girl room for my little Sugar Britches and me to make some fond memories.

Even when I'm tired, I still get a ton of stuff done in a day. Just the sheer amount of  questions and Mommy can you's that I do are enough to knock anyone out.

Most of the times I like being able to say that I feed all of these people.

Sometimes it is okay to eat junk. Even if it is just because mommy is too lazy to cut up an apple.

I will always second guess and worry. But I guess that means I'm doing my job.

Homeschoolers choose a hard road. Not that anyone else has an easy road. But it is really hard to not ever have time to do things like clean or go to the dr while kids are in school.

I have three kids. I know a lot of people have more and do more. But I don't need to compare myself to them. I just need to realize that I'm trying to do the best I can with three kids.

I am not going to strive for perfection.

I'm only going to strive for greatness. And I'm going to keep working on forgiving myself when I fall short of the mark.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Smarty Pants Exchange Update

Hi! I know some of you follow us on facebook (Sweet T Homeschool) and you are aware of the complete explosion that has taken place with the exchange. But I did want to post a little update here, just for those who haven't been over to our page.

I had every intention of getting all the pairing information emailed out on April 1st. (This was NOT an April Fools joke! Promise!)

But then we had more and more and more and more people sign up! I really hate to turn anyone away. People have been so nice and excited! I just couldn't say "no".

So, I'm a little behind! I do hope to have all the pairing done by this weekend and will start emailing everyone their partner(s). 

We have about 135 families participating- some of these doing up to 5-6 packages!!!  I am sorting all the info and will be pairing as close in age and as far in geography as I can. I'm also trying to accommodate the special requests!

I plan to do this twice a year- Spring and Fall. And, believe me, I have learned a lot! Next time I will be more organized and prepared!

Thank y'all so much for playing!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

You are missing out!

When you decided to homeschool did it ever bother you about what your children would miss out on by not going to public or private school? It bothered me. Even though I don't really remember much of what I learned in school and I was bullied and picked on, I started waxing sentimental about all the fun experiences my kids would not be a part of by staying home.

Oh! They will miss out on the Valentine's Exchange!

And what about Field Day?? That is only the best day of the whole school year!!  (The last day of school being a close second!)

Prom! AGH! They won't go to prom!

I remember going to The Fabulous Fox Theater to see my first movie: Helen Keller, Miracle Worker.

Does anyone see a pattern with this? After a week or so of being really distraught that I was ruining the lives of my children by keeping them from these wonderful experiences, I saw a pattern. Never once was I upset about them missing any of the learning experiences that I had. I was concerned about the fun things. I never thought, "Oh dear! They will miss out on memorizing the Periodic Table!" Ugh! I remember having to be able to fill that whole chart in from memory in seventh grade. That little life skill REALLY helped me out in the future. Before I could open a bank account, I was asked to fill in the Periodic Table from memory. AND before I can order at my favorite restaurant, I am required to give the atomic weight of Francium. I use it all the time!

Oh, I got sidetracked!

And then I realized something even better! My kids won't be missing anything!!  They will be doing! My kids will have their own experiences! The field trips were so exciting because we got to go once per year! We were like prisoners on road side trash duty! Whoooo-hoooooo!!  Fresh air!!  Change of scenery!!!! 

My kids get to go on field trips at least once per week.

My kids will get to go to prom. It might not be a prom with 700 other students, but it will be a prom.

My kids exchanged Valentine cards with friends this year. And bonus: they exchanged them while on a field trip to the fire station!

And this week? Well, my kids are attending a homeschool field day. And that won't even be close to the best school day of the year.

We are making our own memories. Will they be like mine? No. They will be better!