Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nursing in Public: Short and Sweet

There is no dress code in the Bible and nothing to indicate that Biblically breasts have to be covered *at all.*

We cover our breasts in general in this culture because that is what is culturally appropriate.

However, our culture is seriously messed up when it comes to the normalcy of breastfeeding. I refuse to be a party to that by covering up when I nurse. I don't flash it everywhere, but I don't hide either.

Modesty is an issue of the heart and I'm not trying to seduce men when I breastfeed so that argument is irrelevant. 

Being a stumbling block refers to *sinning* and encouraging someone else to sin. Breastfeeding is not a sin so that argument is irrelevant as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My First Post As A Guest Blogger: Shame

I wrote my first post as a guest blogger!  It was a post on shame and you can find it at our2crazyboys.  It was for a more mainstream audience, so I didn't word things exactly the way I would have here, but the same basic idea comes across.

In writing that post, I felt a twinge of guilt (not shame though, I discuss the difference in that post).  I do fairly well with not shaming my kids (though I admit in that post one area where I do fall short), but not so well with not shaming my husband.  I don't know why it's so much harder!

I'd love to hear from you about your experiences with shame.  Were you shamed as a kid?  How does it affect you as an adult?  Do you struggle with trying not to shame your kids?  Do you find yourself focusing so hard on parenting well, that some of those bad habits manifest in your marriage instead?  Comment please! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

When did you learn THAT?

On Tuesday, while we were in the car with my mom, E said "Z-O-O spells monkey."  I told her that it didn't and she immediately said, "Oh! No!  It spells zoo!"

I had no idea where she had picked that up.  She tried to explain to me that it was from this electronic game that says the name and sounds of the letters when you push the buttons, but I couldn't remember it saying how to spell any words.

Yesterday, she was talking to someone at the bus stop and said, "Y-O-Y-O spells yoyo."  Again, I had no idea where she had picked that up.

Last night, she showed me what she was talking about when she said she got it from this electronic game.  Each button has a letter and a picture of something that starts with that letter and the name of the picture.  I had never really noticed the names of the pictures, which are in much smaller print than the letters themselves.  So this is where she got the spellings of both zoo and yoyo!

The interesting thing is that not all of the pictures are clear.  For example, the one that says zoo shows a monkey, which is why she said monkey, but somehow she also knew it was supposed to be representing a zoo.  I asked her if she would like to see some other pictures with captions and she said she would, so I'm going to try to find something with simple pictures and captions with them. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Radical Tuesdays- Making Plans

Last week a mom on a message board was asking about unschooling.  In responding to her post I stumbled on expressing a thought that I wanted to expand on:

You can't plan what someone else will learn.

This is the fundamental flaw with schools and curriculums.  The system is set up around a plan that the student will learn X and then Y and then Z all "on time."  If the student doesn't, they have "failed."  This so-called failure is inevitable because you can't plan what someone else will learn.

Unschoolers recognize this, but sometimes think the answer is to stop planning *anything.*  Sometimes they are afraid that if they are planning lots of things, someone might think they aren't really unschooling.  Sometimes they are afraid that they are misunderstanding unschooling if they make plans to do things.

Granted, a huge benefit of unschooling and homeschooling in general is the freedom from being held to the school system's arbitrary schedule.  Part of unschooling is deschooling yourself and realizing that you don't HAVE TO schedule your kids every waking moment.  For unschooling to work, it is necessary to drop the fear that if your kids are happy playing all day that they aren't learning.  Because they are!

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with making plans.  I make plans for myself and my kids all the time.  The difference between the types of plans I make and the types of plans influenced by schoolish thought or the use of curriculum is that unschoolers shouldn't be making the mistake of thinking they can plan what their kids will learn.  It's impossible!  It is perfectly ok, however, to make plans of things to do, places to go, people to see and all kinds of things to make life fun, interesting, rich, and to borrow from Sandra Dodd- SPARKLY!  You can't plan what someone else will learn, but make life interesting and they WILL learn.

Here are some things I take into consideration when I'm making plans:

1. Motivation.  Are you planning a trip to the zoo because your child loves animals or to expose her to something new?  Or are you going to use the plaques in front of each exhibit for a "reading lesson" and come back and do a "unit study" on her favorite animal?  You can't plan *what* your child will learn from the zoo, but you can plan to take them, enjoy the time with them, and trust that they are learning whether you see it happening or not.
2. Enjoyment.  Is this something you think your child might enjoy?  Or is it something that all the "good homeschoolers" do?  If you have a choice between a Lego Convention and a Science Museum, don't choose the Museum if you know your child loves legos, just because the museum is more "educational."  On the other hand, don't scoff at the museum if you think your child will enjoy it just because it looks "schoolish."

3. Cost.  If you pay for an annual membership or 3 months of classes and your child doesn't like it, are you going to force them to go to get your money's worth?  Or feel resentful if you let them drop out?  Either make sure you can gracefully handle their decline or only pay for a little bit at a time.

4. Flexibility.  If you make plans to go somewhere, even if you are excited about it, be willing to change your plans if your child isn't interested.  On the other hand, I have heard of parents asking their three year old "Do you want to go to the museum?" and then being disappointed that she doesn't want to go so they never try it.  She doesn't know what it is that she is declining!  A few days ago, we went to the Discovery Museum.  My kids have never gone, so I didn't ask if they wanted to go.  I told them a few weeks ago that we were going and when.  I have mentioned it a few times since then and tried to explain what it is.  On the day of the trip I woke them up and said to get ready, we're going.  Once we got there, if they had been bored or overwhelmed or not enjoying themselves for any reason, we would have left (or in this case, sat in the car and waited, since my mom was our ride and visiting with her other grandchildren).  Part of unschooing is exposing them to new things, but if they aren't enjoying themselves, it's time to be flexible and let it go.   Also, my kids know that they can tell me they don't want to do something and I won't make them.  They usually go along with what I plan, but last week their grandma was going to take them to do something (still undecided and vague at that point) while I went shopping.  E had been sick and said that she didn't want to do anything with grandma except lay on her couch and watch a movie.  So I called my mom and let her know, no big deal.

5. Over Scheduling.  I have seen some new unschoolers try to match school hours with their activities thinking that all those "educational things" are a substitute for classroom learning.  It's ok to make some plans.  It's ok to have periods of busyness if everyone is enjoying it.  It's also important to have down time and for kids to have lots of time to play, and to deschool to the point that you are no longer comparing what you are doing to school.

6.  Personality.  Is your child an introvert or extrovert?  A trip to the zoo might be more fun with a group for your extrovert.  It might be more better for your introvert to go with just the family and take your time and look carefully at every animal.

7. Tune into your kids.  Most importantly, figure out what works for *your* kids, not some theoretical child of the same age, not the kids in your homeschool group, not how your child was last year, but your child right now.  Some kids need to know about plans way in advance, some don't mind spontaneity.  Some like to go somewhere every day, some prefer to stay home most of the time.  Some like crafts or reading about a subject, some like videos.  Whatever you are doing, rather than worrying about planning what your child is learning, ask yourself is my child having fun and is this making life interesting?       

And on the flip side, if you and your kids do fine just waking up in the morning and winging it, that's great!  This is addressing the fear that making plans is somehow anti-unschooling, but if you do fine without plans, don't feel like you have to start making them.

Also, if you or your child are still deschooling, maybe don't jump into making a bunch of plans just yet.  Let there be plenty of time to recuperate and decompress and then only add in plans if your child is ready and enjoying them.   

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Inspiration Sunday- Enjoying Each Age

In the last 24 hours I have said to D:

"I want a one year old in the house forever!"

"Three is the best age!  She is hilarious!"

"I was told six was a really hard age, but I'm seeing lots of maturity and so far it has not been hard at all."

Yes, I'm really enjoying my kids right now.

One year olds are just adorable.  I think it's God's little conspiracy to make sure they get loved on even when we are frazzled and tired.  Z screams, poops a lot, runs away during diaper changes, throws food on the floor, eats paper, climbs on the table, eats things out of the trash, and is 18 pounds of destruction and chaos.  But she makes this squishy face that cracks me up even though she won't let me get it on camera, she toddles around taking herself quite seriously, she kisses and hugs us all, she makes little squeaking sounds when she nurses, and she puts her head on the floor like she's going to do a somersault, but ends up walking around with her head scootching across the carpet.  And people who get mad about babies wiggling during diaper changes have no idea what they are missing.  I take her pants off, she runs away.  She laughs and comes back.  I take her diaper off, she runs away again, naked little butt mooning the world.  She laughs and comes back and I raspberry her tummy.  I put the new diaper on and she runs away again.  Act of utter defiance or fun bonding time?  You are the parent, you get to decide how you respond.

Three year olds are God's gift to the humorously challenged.  I can't stand potty humor in most cases- give me some good sarcastic wit.  But L talking about farting can leave me in stitches.  For example, my recent facebook status:

L just came into the room laughing and said "I farted!"  I said, "That's fascinating, my dear."  She answered, "Yah!  It's not stinky, it's funny!  Now I need hot chocolate because inside my body is cold."  Apparently, farting cools off the insides.
Today, she looked at me with the most serious expression, furrowed her eyebrows and cocked her head to the side.  "What are you doing?" she asked.  It was if the answer would help her unlock the mystery of my parental super powers, the unsolvable riddle of "How did you know THAT [E and I got chocolate, but you couldn't see us]?"

Six year olds are God's gift to parents of younger children.  Parenting three is actually easier in some ways than parenting one was.  E plays with L all day, helps keep Z off the table and out of the cupboards, brings me diapers, and makes sure the tub gets drained after baths.  She is trustworthy and responsible for her age. She loves being the big kid who gets to stay up after her sisters fall asleep to eat ice cream with mom and dad, and gets to go outside to play with the neighborhood kids by herself.  She is getting more and more interesting to talk to, though we've always had great conversations, but they are just getting better as she gets older.  I need to remember to do less talking and more listening, because I want to soak up her perspective before it gets tainted by all the realities of the world.  

What ages are your kids and what are you enjoying about them right now?



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Radical Tuesday- Posted UnRules (Solutions!)

I know some families post the "rules of the house" so that everything is known and consistent for the kids.  I have never considered doing this because we don't have 100% set in stone rules in our house.  We have "keep messy food out of the bedrooms because of the potential for ants" and "you can jump on the couch, but don't climb on the back because it's starting to rip" and "PLEASE for the LOVE of ALL that is GOOD- put your towel in the bathroom when you are done with it."  But, those would be awfully long to write out and post on the wall.  And they are flexible!

I have, however, borrowed from this idea of posting rules and I have sometimes posted solutions.  I may have posted (or maybe just thought about it) a while back about the reminder note that I wrote for the girls to bring their apples back into the kitchen.  They wanted to take apples in their bedroom, and we were fighting ants all summer so my first reaction was NO!  Then we talked about it and I told them my concern that the half eaten apples would get left in the bedroom.  They promised not to leave them.  I said we would need to come up with something to help them remember, rather than just relying on their memories.

I ended up writing a note that said "Bring your apples back in the kitchen" and posting it on their bedroom door.
They can't read, of course, but they knew what it said.  They were part of the solution and understood the terrible ant problem (well, this was mostly E, but she helped L) and just seeing the paper on the door helped them remember.

More recently, they have been leaving their towels on the floor in the living room and bedrooms after they dry off after a bath.
 They take *at least* three baths a day just for fun, so I was picking up and reminding them to pick up a lot of towels.  They are both usually pretty happy to put their own towel back when I reminded them, but one day E did NOT want to put it back.  I told her that I was tired of picking up the towels and reminding them to do it, and that it seemed like she was tired of putting her towel away too, so we needed to figure out something that would work better.  She agreed, but didn't have any ideas.  So I said that when I take a shower, I dry off in the bathroom and then put the towel away right away.  So I NEVER have to pick up my towel off the floor!  I suggested putting a note in the bathroom so they would remember to leave their towels in there.  They agreed, I posted a note that says "Leave Towels In The Bathroom" and there has not been a single towel on the floor for well over a week.  To top it off, they are SO EXCITED that they remember to put their towels away and come running out of the bathroom saying "Mom, look!  No towel!"

My husband recently had an idea to make his "honey do" list more appealing.
He is a Type 1 according to It's Just My Nature, which means he is fun loving and random, so this is the kind of thing that makes his life interesting, and makes me and my Type 4ness scratch my head, but hey, whatever works!  The kids have this spinner from some old game that has the numbers 1 through 6.  So he told me to make him a list of the 6 projects I want him to get done this week and number them.   Every day he spins the spinner and does the job associated with the number on which the spinner lands.

The kids thought this was so cool!
So E asked me to make her a list of jobs to do too.  I thought of six things the girls can (and sometimes already did) help with: wash the table and counter, take out the trash, wash the front of the fridge and stove, put away their own laundry, vacuum and make a meal.  E is so excited to spin it every day and do her "job" (sometimes more than one) and L goes along for the ride and helps.