Monday, November 21, 2011

Z is in a Big Hurry to Get Big!

I remember having to lay the chairs on their sides to prevent table dancing with the other two kids, but not this young!  She will be 11 months in a few days.  Yesterday, she climbed to the second rung of the bunk bed ladder and would have kept going if I didn't stop her.  A few days ago, she brought a toy drum over next to a five gallon bucket, so she could use the drum as a step to get onto the bucket.  As long as she doesn't start jumping off everything like her sisters do!

It really is true though that they are often capable of so much more than we give them credit for.  I have found with all three of mine that by my taking their little dare devil stunts in stride, they are actually quite safe, because they learn quickly what their bodies are capable of.  They are confident, strong and agile, and this keeps them much safer than parental helicoptering ever could.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inevitable Mondays- Strewing Games

Yesterday when I organized their games, I pulled out some things they had not seen for a long time including a big bucket full of plastic and foam letters.  They spent a lot of time playing with them today- stacking them in piles, spreading them all over the table, pretending they were pancakes and trying to spell words.  At one point, E asked me how to spell "whispers," and after she was done putting all the letters together she tried to sound it out.  She insisted that the R and the S on the end needed to be reversed.  We went back and forth for a few minutes- in a relaxed, playful way, not arguing- and then I let it go.  She was wrong of course, but that's not important right now.  She was really working through sounding out the letters and trying to place them the way she was hearing them.  That's an important part of learning to read!  L was having fun naming the letter and number "pancakes." ("I want a S pancake!  Now a blue one!")   

Pulling out the games was one more step in the most recent ebb (or flow?) of this ebbing and flowing life.  For the last few weeks, we've been settling in to new routines for the winter.  The girls had been taking dance and gymnastics classes, but since we are without a car, it is now to cold to walk.  All summer they played outside in our yard for hours every day, but now they stay inside more.  So I've been working on finding more indoor things to do.  Now that the games are organized I can see clearly what we need to get for Hanukkah gifts.  I'm also going to get them some art supplies and E might be getting a trampoline for her birthday.  I went searching for online games for them to play and found this list of the Top 10.  Ignore the intro- it's a totally mainstream "get your kid to learn by making it fun!" kind of thing.  Maybe I'll post reviews of the games once the girls start playing them more


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Can Radical Unschoolers Have a Schedule? Part 2

How does my schedule work with radical unschooling?

I'm organizing MY day, not theirs.  If they are happy playing with each other, it is irrelevant to them whether I do dishes first or make phone calls first, whether I play on the computer or get something accomplished.  We are in a stage right now where my activities and my children's activities are often separate, but side by side.  We frequently intersect with each other, but I don't need to revolve all of my activities around them and I don't need to control their activities in order to get mine accomplished.  I am honestly surprised to be in this place with my children still so young, and it feels almost taboo to say such a thing in some attachment parenting circles, but truly my day does not revolve around my kids, nor does their day revolve around me.

I'm flexible.  Here is how today worked out.  After my little morning routine, I wanted to get the house straightened up since I don't do any cleaning on Shabbot it was messy from yesterday.  I started on dishes, but then E was asking about hearts and wanted to look up some videos.  So I stopped cleaning and we watched an open heart surgery.  Then I found the girls some vidoes with songs about the skeletal system and while they watched, I went back to cleaning.  My plan was to work on my business plan next, but D put a movie on the computer for them so I couldn't use it.  So I basically just flip flopped my morning plan with my afternoon plan and worked on organizing their games and making some phone calls.  Then my afternoon was thrown off because someone came to look at a trailer we are selling and that took an hour.  It was good though, because the girls and I needed the fresh air and that got us outside.  Then my mom took the girls on a date to a movie and D and I decided to take advantage of it and watch our own movie at home, which I usually never do during the day.  I didn't start working on my business plan until after five o'clock, but I managed to get in more than the 2 hours I was originally planning while D made dinner and put a movie on for the girls before bed.

Usually my days go closer to the plan than today did, but my goal is not for my day to fit my perfect plan.  My goal is to 1) move through my day with purpose, getting *something* accomplished and 2) keeping my kids my priority and being available for them as much as they need me.  No mater what I am doing or have planned, if the baby needs to nurse, I nurse her.  If the kids are hungry for lunch, I make lunch.  If the kids need me, I drop what I am doing, whether it's to help them resolve a conflict or because one wants to snuggle or if a interest comes up that we can explore further.  I have noticed that because I do have a plan in place that includes time for the kids and is flexible, I don't get stressed out that I won't get things accomplished when I stop to spend time with them.

Maybe that does sound like it revolves around them, but what I mean is that *right now* I do not have the often bemoaned stay-at-home mom dilemma of feeling like I need to entertain my kids all day long.  E and L spend large chunks of the day playing together, and Z either follows them around or hangs out in the carrier on my back while I work.  Throughout the day I will check on how they are doing, or they will come show me something and we'll talk for a minute, or they will help me with something and then run off to play again, or we will read a book or snuggle with a movie.  But I am not moving them through *their* days.  It feels very The Continuum Concept-ish and it is really nice.   

I have actually discovered that I feel more relaxed and I have less anxiety since I have embraced living like a type 4.  I also noticed (and this will be a shock to my family of origin) that I don't like messes.  Really.  They set me on edge.  I always had a messy room as a kid, and I have never been the greatest housekeeper and I never realized how much it bugged me.  I was too overwhelmed and I didn't have the skills to keep up on it, so I was simultaneously used to living that way and irritated by it.  I'm still far from a neat freak, mostly because I have little kids and I have to set priorities with my time, and following my kids around and cleaning all day is not one of them.  BUT I have also made it a priority to own less clutter, to set aside daily cleaning times, and to have things picked up at least 5 nights a week and do a more thorough cleaning job once a week.  Also, if I noticed that I am feeling irritable for no apparent reason,  I can now pinpoint when I am feeling that way because of the clutter around me, and instead of taking it out on my family, I can channel it into doing a quick 10 minute clean up time.  



My Schedule: Moving through my Days With Purpose Part One

For years I have avoided using any kind of schedule.  As a teenager, I managed to go to high school, take college classes and work by flying by the seat of my pants.  I procrastinated, crammed, stayed up late, went to school in my pajamas, got detention for being late to first period almost daily, usually missed breakfast, and spent lunch breaks doing homework for the class immediately after.  I also graduated high school, got an associates degree, and was promoted at work (and never late there) before I turned 18.  The teacher who frequently gave me detention for being late, also gave me a B in that AP English class.  So.... it worked.

Since I have had kids, I have been a "loose routine" sort of mom.  We sleep when we are tired and eat when we are hungry, but have had a loose routine based on time-oriented things that are a part of our lives.  When I was managing apartments, there was certain work that had to be done on certain days.  I had to be up and dressed, ready to be in the office by a reasonable time in the morning.  Loose weekly routines have revolved around dance or yoga classes, library story times and home school play days.

I have slowly gotten more structured over the last few years.  A few years ago, I started making 5 year plans that detail the things I want to learn/accomplish/do in the next 5 years in my personal development, finances, spirituality, business, and health..  I update it every year.  Then I review it monthly and determine what I can do *this* month to work on those goals.  Then I plan my week every Saturday night and add in the smaller steps that will help me accomplish that month's goals.

Each individual day, however, has looked different from every other day and as long as I was getting my "to do" list done, I thought I was happy with that (but often I would get a LOT done one day and be cranky about it, and nothing done the next day and be cranky about that).  For the kids, I have on occasion used a magnetic picture calendar just so they can see what is coming next.  I used it in such a way that they have input on what we were doing that day and it could change if their wishes changed, but it would give them a visual of what the day would look like.  I have not used it for the last year, however, and they don't seem to miss it.  We talk about our plans for the day and have a loose routine and that seems to be sufficient.  I have noticed that they like to have at least one "set-in-stone" preferably out of the house, thing to do each day- park, library, shopping, friend's house.

So, why have I embraced more structure recently?  I read a book called It's Just My Nature!, which is an energy profiling system, similar to a personality typing system, but oh so much more!  At first I thought I was a type 3, but I soon started waffling between thinking I was a type 3 and a type 4.  I have finally decided that I am a type 4, with a strong secondary type 3, and I have lived as a type 3 for most of my life.  The more I embraced the calm, still qualities of being a type 4, the more I realized that I feel better when I am moving in a linear direction, with a plan.

I hit upon a phrase that really struck a chord with what I was desiring- Moving through my days with purpose.  I have finally found a system that works *for me* and true to my type 4 nature, it could not be a system that anyone else designed.  I have a big 18 month binder style calendar.  I put my to-do list on the spaces for each day.  Every morning I get a fresh piece of notebook paper and make my schedule for the day.  Every day starts out the same with breakfast, taking my calcium magnesium, planning my day and spending some time alone in prayer and reading my Bible.  Beyond that, each day still looks different from the next and I like that variety, but I have some direction, written down for what I want to accomplish before lunch and then what I want to accomplish before dinner.  I don't schedule it down to the hour, but depending on the day in 2-4 hour chunks.  I throw the paper away at the end of the day, so all that is left on the semi-permanent record of my calendar is my crossed off to-do list.  This works much better for me than writing down every detail on the calendar (a bit of perfectionism in me would cause me to develop a nervous twitch if I wrote down "laundry" on every day and missed it twice a week) and it works better than grabbing a random piece of paper to write down today's to-do list, but not having anywhere set and permanent to write down what I need to do next week and thus forget and/or procrastinate.    

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inevitable Monday- Uno

Last night we all walked to the store to get a movie from redbox, but the magnetic strip on my debit card is all worn out and it wouldn't work.  So, we decided to buy a new game and picked up Uno.  We played a few times last night and the first thing the girls wanted to do this morning was to play again.
E mostly gets the concept, but needs a little help.  L is happy just to be playing and have her own cards.  Both are learning from playing the game.  Colors, numbers, taking turns, being team mates, strategy, matching and more.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Perspective Thursday- An Interview

What's your favorite thing to play?
Dress Up

What is your favorite, dance or gymnastics?
Everything in dance and gymnastics.

What do you want to be when you grow up
A firefighter

What do you think about homeschooling?
Homeschooling is fun!

What do you think about your new bunk bed?
It's fun!  We flip and hang on the bars and go woop!

What is something you learned recently?
How to flip. (E)
How to do a back somersault. (L)

What do you think about baby Z?
She's funny and she ouches me a lot, but I still love her.

Who cooks better food, mommy or daddy?
Oh, Daddy!  Daddy's a great chef!

What is your favorite book?
Books about bones.

What are you excited about?
Daddy's birthday!

What are you sad about?
I miss my friend Y. (E)

What else do you want to tell me?
I like princess blankets!

L wasn't very interested in answering, so most of these answers are E's.