Thursday, March 25, 2010

Loving Life to the Extremes....

Been a while since I posted... so many recent developments in my life for the better... and only after all hell let loose, and it rained shit. Our family has gone through the most extremely radical changes... and we are flying high on life as a result.
It was only 4 and a half years ago, that as a very uptight parent, I watched and heard the families interact and talk at the St. Louis Live and Learn Conference... (thank you Kelli Lovejoy for making that one possible...)
Radical Unschooling, Whole Life Unschooling, or whatever you want to call having the most awesome relationship with your kids/partner, as I have currently, intrigued me, although, I held tightly to my fundamentalist Christian beliefs... as you will see if you read the beginning posts on this blog.
I criticized, I judged... I put radical unschoolers down... and all the while.. the seeds planted at that conference germinated in my mind...
I now live the most wonderful life... Unschooling untied all the knots that had me strangling. All the inhibitions that held me back from living this wonderful life are leaving or already gone...
So happy and content....

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Are children Manipulative? Are People Manipulative?

This Facebook post turned into a discussion, and I wanted to post it...

Laura Luster
Experts warn that allowing a baby to "cry it out" causes extreme distress to the baby. And such extreme distress in a newborn has been found to block the full development of certain areas of the brain ...
Yesterday at 7:16pm · · · Share · Report
Laura Luster
Laura Luster
Thanks, Amanda, for the link.
Yesterday at 7:21pm
Michelle Schooling
Michelle Schooling
OMG, I don't even need/want to read the article. The title says it all.
Yesterday at 7:43pm ·
Wow... The doctors and nurses in the NICU always told us babies who are held when they are crying are NOT being spoiled they are "well loved" :)
Yesterday at 7:45pm
Michelle Schooling
Michelle Schooling
I think this should apply to all people, especially the overlooked group from ages 2 through 14 or whenever it is that people stop accusing the person of "being manipulative/faking their tears."...
Yesterday at 7:52pm · Delete
I never let my babies cry it out - I thought it was cruel. I nursed them on demand - even if that meant every 2 hours at night till they were both 14 months. Now they sleep like champs and have been since I weaned them.
Yesterday at 8:30pm

I can't imagine not holding a baby who is clearly in distress, even if that distress is "just" wanting to be held. My babies nursed round the clock and I just dealt with it - that's what moms do, isn't it?
Yesterday at 10:03pm

You know what...there is a difference between outright blasting the decibel chart crying and fussing...sometimes babies just fuss...but if my five year old is crying and he doesn't have something wrong (either illness or injury) guess who is getting a reason to cry...babies cry because they are unable to speak...not because they want everything...... See Morethey cry because they need something and we have yet to provide that need...Older kids are commonly spoiled...let a 14 year old cry like that??? no way.
Yesterday at 11:10pm

Michelle, I agree with you 100%. I'm glad you wrote that!
10 hours ago
Laura Luster
Laura Luster
I remember a long time ago back when I was 'into' the attachment parenting thing (all my infants were pretty much AP'ed - but I struggled with Positive Parenting) that kids who whined when they were older had been taught this as a coping technique. Negative attention is still attention. I was convinced I would raise my kids in such a way that ... See Morethey would not need to use this technique. I failed. I give tons of attention via negative feedback that whining drives me nuts. Whining does not get the kids anything other than my disapproval so it's not like they are using it to get what they want. I believe this is because they have no other mechanism to use. As an adult, if I am upset, I am "allowed" to use an angry pissed off tone with people. Kids hear that adults use a rotten tone of voice when we are mad, but we tell them not to. Yet, we don't show them through our actions what is appropriate - we only yell at them that they are not allowed to have a bad tone of voice with us. It's kind of interesting to think about. In psychology they give you two methods to remove behaviors - ignore the negative and reward the positive or punish the behavior (which in animal experiments meant shocking them with electricity - true physical abuse). If you pay even negative attention to the negative, then you are rewarding it in some way - which then keeps the behavior in stalemate.
4 hours ago

you are correct in that in some cases even negative attention is a reward in some small way...but you would be amazed at the number of parents who give a child a sucker to quiet them while they are rolling on the floor screaming "I want a sucker"
2 hours ago
Michelle SchoolingMichelle SchoolingThanks, Margie!
I agree with you, Laura. We will never eliminate a person's (or child's) coping technique. Can we help them change it? Maybe. If they are willing to listen to us. If they trust that we know that they are always trying their best, and sometimes life just feels unfair.... Then if we are calm, and tell them what we would like from them (such as, "I find it hard to understand you when you are crying or whining. Or, I find it hard to deal with a lot of crying and whining. I would like you to talk to me to tell me what you would like).
Is this going to work every time? probably not, because like Laura pointed out, sometimes people are just too upset to act rationally, regardless of their age. But if you have an intact relationship with your child, it may work more often than not. and you may find that the habit decreases.

About giving the kid a sucker to stop his screaming... well, are you not giving him the sucker for fear of spoiling him? are you in the habit of not giving him "what he wants" because you believe that in the 'real world' people don't get what they want?... See More
My opinion is that kids are just little people. they will grow up. they learn daily that life is hard sometimes, on their own. Do they need us making it arbitrarily harder?
would you deny yourself, your partner, or one of your friends a dessert if they asked for it? "just because life is unfair and they need to learn that?" Maybe if you suspected that they were always manipulating you. Maybe if you resented it when they asked you for things. Maybe if you thought it wasn't fair that they seemed to have it easy while you struggle through life "not getting what you want".
These are things I think about when my child seems to be whining. I try to put myself in their shoes. I ask myself, when do I act like that? what Am I usually feeling like when I do? Helpless? Choiceless? How can I help them feel like they have choices? How can I help them not feel helpless?
Can you spoil a child? I don't have an *answer* per se... but I'm leaning towards probably not. I agree that you can reinforce whining by not attending to the need underlying it, and just "giving the kid a sucker".
I also think you can damage a kids view of the world by yelling at him to "Stop Whining!" and leaving him/her with the feeling that life sucks. No pun intended. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Wintertime... time for TOWN!

My amazing kids have recently begun TOWN again. This is a (usually) winter time game that they came up with about 4 years ago.
Yesterday through process of election, each candidate for mayor, Jesse and Travis, made his speech, and Travis was voted in. The speeches were about taxes, monetary contributions to the hospital, mail and banking services. Of course I got them on video!
This morning they have created a Science Lab, a Hospital, complete with IV bag, heart monitor, television/remote, patient charts, etc, a and giant Swimming Pool all with household items.
Wow. I stand in amazement at the knowledge of the world that they demonstrate through play!!!
Travis is the doctor in the hospital. He takes patients, examines their wounds, records their names/injuries on their chart, and does what he can to help them feel better. I suspect his is a wholistic doctor as I'm sure he helps them emotionally as well. Especially his littlest brother, Nathan, who has received the most injuries swinging on the ropes. :) He has probably come in with a few bruises and sore spots. Nathan enjoys the services of the hospital, including the singing doctor who belts out the theme song to one of his favorite TV shows, called SuperWhy
Jaidyn became a nurse today, bringing Nathan into the hospital while the doctor was upstairs in the kitchen procuring supplies for the lab.

Savannah is the Scientist, as well as the Maid and the Taxi Service. He also enjoys swinging on the ropes at the gymnasium (next to the pool) with his sister, Jaidyn.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Science and Memory Lane on a Monday in October

Today we had sunshine! Sometimes that seems like a miracle, like it is today. We will have a whole day of it! We've had gray skies for about 2 weeks now... I told the kids we were going to take the recycling in to our local recycling plant (an often outing for us) to accomplish saving the earth, cleaning out the garage, and getting our 15 minute daily (well, not here in Ohio) dose of Vitamin D.
Travis and I have been discussing how we both seem to have been feeling not so good mentally lately, and as I know that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and our chemical makeups are very similar, we could probably both use some additional Vitamin D for the winter. In addition to taking advantage of the sun we do have, we will be buying some liquid emulsion vitamin D. I am going to get my D levels tested before and after we begin the vitamins to have a record of them. Sound like a science experiment?! :) Travis of course will observe it as part of daily life...
After the recycling where Aaron and Jaidyn seperated the glass, plastic, and paper, we went to the library. They were closed, but there was a man in the parking lot who looked like he was putting wires into the cement. Travis urged me to ask what he was doing. We ended up with a private mini-lesson in which the kids learned how cement cures, gets cut to prevent uneven cracks when shrinking, and that process takes approximately 30 days. At the point (which happened around today), you need to put roping (which was what we mistook for wiring) into the cracks, and seal them over with caulk to prevent water from freezing in them and seperating the concrete. Travis was completely intrigued and soaked in the info like a sponge. You think it had something to do with the fact that he wanted to know about it??? :) LOL
On the way home, we were discussing concrete, and I remembered that the driveway to our old house on the hill, which we had just passed, had Jesse, Travis, and Savannah's handprints in it from the year 2000, when we had it poured. Savannah was 6 months old at the time, Travis 2.5 years, and Jesse 4 years.
We turned around to go see the handprints. They were sooo tiny!! :) Travis was overwhelmed with nostalgia. He and Savannah have always held that house in their hearts as a very special place. Travis lived their from age 2.5 to age 5. It is truly amazing to me how much he remembers from that time. He asked the current resident if he and Aaron could come in and take a trip through memory lane. She let them in, and he remembered exactly how our furniture had been arranged and enjoyed the fact that much of it was still the same. His dad had built a school room for Jesse in the basement, and it turns out it's still there, only an office now. Travis remembered just where he, his older brother, and his dad stood to take their picture while they were all wearing Superman shirts. He remembered the spot that his brother hit his head on the basement floor when they were pushing each other over inside cardboard boxes.
Back outside he marveled at the water basin that used to be full of weeds, and is now grass covered. He found the spot that he, his older brother, and younger sister picnicked on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with their toddler sized table.
He, Aaron, and Jaiydn took advantage of the grassy hills for rolling down fun...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time and Money Matters which lead to Art, and other things in Life.

Our children are well aware of money and its value. My husband and I have begun budgeting lately, and the kids are becoming familiar with how much we have to spend weekly, and what we are able to afford. We discuss the cost of fuel when we decide how to combine trips to the video game store with trips to the grocery store as just one example.
The other day, my 13 year old wanted to buy some clay to produce a start/stop film. He, his siblings, and his friends really enjoy watching Clay World on YouTube, and he wants to make his own version. He is still deciding what to call his show. Anyhow, he wanted me to drive him to Walmart. We were discussing various options, since the trip to just buy a couple dollars worth of clay would cost about $4 in fuel. We decided that it wasn't worth the money that evening. His grandma could take him when she went to the grocery store the next day, but that would mean missing out on a few hours of his friends birthday party. In the end we discovered that his friends mom would be going to Walmart before the party, so if I dropped him off their on my way to work, we accomplished more time with his friends, no extra fuel cost, and he got his clay.
My 11 year old son, Travis, loves his video games, and both he and his older brother are always buying, selling, and swapping their games at the local Gamestops, or the sole proprietorship game store nearby called Trade and Play. They use their math and reasoning skills to get the best deals, most times getting the better end of the deal. I am impressed with their ingenuity!

As an example of how the kids have learned the value of money, my son Travis was trying to convince me the other night NOT to buy pop for our movie night, even though it is one of his favorite treats! We had accidently rented two of the same title movies, making our total cost $5 for movie rentals, rather than $3. Travis told me, "Mom, we've spent enough money tonight. We don't need to buy the pop." I was flabbergasted. He did not have pop of his own. He was actually choosing not to buy it because of our lack of money! I was proud. :)
Often, my kids earn their own money. Grandma Schooling hires them intermittently to help her weed her yard, and Grandma Frase will let them subcontract with her at her cleaning jobs, but more often than not, they will walk the neighborhood soliciting for yard work. In the winter, my 11, 9, and 7 year olds worked for 3 hours shoveling a local schoolteacher's sidewalk. She paid them well. This summer, my 11 year old has a weekly job mowing a large yard. He makes $25/week!

Gym and "Socialization"

My kids get lots of outdoor play. They love our trampoline, and use it daily. They swim in our pool for hours. We take walks often, at least 3 times/week.
Last week, we got out the bikes and went for a 10 mile bike ride. Halfway through, we stopped for ice cream in the little town of Canal Fulton. They served us amazingly large helpings, YUM!
Jaidyn (5), and Nathan (2.5) rode in the wheeled cart pulled by my bike. My 4 other children, ages 13, 11, 9, and 7 rode on their own, the 7 year old stopping often to drink from the water bottle attached to his bike. Their grandma was with us, since Daddy was out of town working. It was a great time and good excercise.
We also went bowling recently. We took a couple of friends, and had a great time. There were about 12 of us all together, ranging in age from 35 down to 2.5.

Science-Protecting our Environment-Laundry Soap

I began making my own laundry soap a couple of months ago, and have reaped quite a savings.
A few days ago we ran out, and it dawned on me, "Why not teach the kids how to make laundry soap?"
Jesse, my 13 year old was already in bed. He gets up early to go to our hometown public school. We live in a town of about 3,000 people. My oldest homeschooler, Travis (who is 11) was involved in one of his DS games, using the internet as a guide to help him through the tough spots. The youngest kids were off playing, but Savannah, my 9 year old, and Aaron, my 7 year old were available and interested.
They helped grate the bar soap into the boiling water, and measure and pour the borax and washing soda into the 2 gallon bucket of lukewarm water, and then stir the mixture up. Aaron pretended he was a witch stirring his brew... :) We let it set up over night, and in the morning, stirred the gelatinous mix again, until it was smooth enough to pour through the funnel into the empty containers we used for our last batch. We recycle old milk and juice bottles to keep our laundry soap in. We are set for another month of washing clothes effectively and affordably. And the kids have learned about economizing, measuring, chemicals, and fun in the meantime!


1 quart boiling water
1 bar soap (as free of dyes/scents as possible)

Grate the soap with a cheese grater into the boiling water.

In a large bucket, put 2 gallons of lukewarm water. Add 2 cups Arm and Hammer Washing Soda and 1 cup of Borax.

When soap has fully melted, add the hot mixture to the lukewarm and stir. Let sit overnight. It will smell like soap, and possibly have some gelatinous lumps, but this does not affect the cleaning quality. If you prefer, you may add any essential oil that will not harm the skin. I adore the smell of lavendar, and add 20 drops per gallon of laundry soap when I can afford it.

Business and Courtesy in Play, OH MY!

This crisp August morning I am enjoying sitting at my kitchen table with my steaming cup of coffee listening to the wonderful music of loving children playing together. Not segregated according to age, but my 2 year old thanking my 11 year old for something he gave him, and my 7 and 5 year olds pretending to enjoy a snack together. The quiet turns to frolicking when my 2 year old demands that the 7 and 5 year old, "Get out of MY room, peoples!!" as he chases them.
My oldest homeschooler, Travis, has expanded on the tent that his brother and sister constructed last night. He turned it into a multiple room hotel complete with a food court, pool, customer service desk, an excercise track, and a birds eye view of Mount Toyus (a mountain created by draping white towels -for snow- over a pile of toys. It's complete with little Lego and Pez man climbers. The Grand Opening began when Travis lead his siblings through the hotel, showing them each of the anemities, their rooms, carrying in their baggage, and finishing up with room service food. He uses his professional voice, instructing them on the various hotel rules, "Don't go there, it's a walkway being constructed." "I'm sorry, that is for hotel workers only."
Jaidyn (my 5 year old) wants a more active role in this, so Travis offered he a job as a room service delivery girl. She called him on the pretend phone (from her hotel room to the service desk) to find out what she'd be doing in this job. Now I hear her delivering gummies to her 2 year old brothers room. "That'll be $3." she says. "Thanks!", Nathan replies.
My 9 year old, who enjoys going to public school is recovering from a virus today, and had just come downstairs after her shower. This would be her second day of the 2009-2010 school year, but she is home, instead. She was disappointed, but is looking forward to attending tomorrow. For today, she will pack her bag with her wallet, makeup, and gameboy, and take a room in the Homeschool Hotel.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I experienced the difference between school and unschooling today

Just did science, geography, and weather map lessons with the kids... they were watching cartoons and a severe thunderstorm warning came through, prompting us to look it up online, hence the geography and weather map lesson. While we were busy, got into the ice cream, prompting milkshakes on the deck, which led to discussing more about weather patterns, and directions-where the sun rises and sets, etc...

Life Learning Rules! on that same note... I taught cake class to 16 kids today, vs. my normal 5... I can now say from recent personal experience that mass learning does not give the same quality learning as a near 1:1 student/teacher ratio... then t...hrow in the kids dis-interest factor... and hmm..... what sticks in their brains??? OK. I'll get off my soap box now... and I did try to reign it in a lot...
ok, one last thing... "How many kids per teacher are there in a school setting??" oh yeah, a 'good' school setting ratio is 26 students to 1 teacher... I have to question the quality of that learning! Sorry. I just can't see it. The kid would have to be WAY motivated, i.e. interested, to learn, and be able to ignore all the distractions and going on.... ok, really, I'll stop now. I'm gonna go write all this in my blog. It's one thing to hear about it, but to experience it today for myself... W.O.W.

Friday, June 19, 2009

early morning Serenity

Grounded in Bliss, I walk my path

peace flowing through me no permission to ask

early Serenity on a rainy morn

my Heart keeps expanding like a ripple formed

by a stone dropped into the depths...

Peace be.