Tag Archives: Hope

Life Learning

Homeschool. One word invokes such strong feelings in so many people. Fear, dread, anger. But for us, much stronger than any of those feelings, hope. Of course we’re planning a more radical approach than merely schooling at home. We’re traveling the unschooling road. For us, we believe, it’s the best fit.

We’re not afraid that our children won’t get into university. Partly because we don’t believe university is the answer for everyone. We know that if our children express interest in a career that requires a university degree, we’ll assist them in finding what they need in order to get in. We’ll also use a school board that both supports and has experience in the style of schooling our family uses.

Nor are we afraid that our children won’t learn what they need to know in order to lead productive lives. We already see their passion, their drive to learn. There’s no reason to believe that’ll change as they get older. Some people wonder if children will ever learn to read, write, tackle higher order mathematics, or finish ‘school’ with  a well round education.

We’re not concerned. We don’t belief someone else should decide what ‘well-rounded’ actually entails. Is it really important to learn American history? Some might say yes, but what about people living in Australia? Do they learn American history? If so, do they learn the same as Americans? Probably not. Living in Canada it might be important to learn about the Canadian political system, and at least some Canadian history, but it isn’t really necessary. But since Ryan and I are moderately interested in politics and are open and vocal about what we’re watching/reading/listening to, the girls are exposed to that. As for world history, again because Ryan and I are moderately interested, the girls are also exposed. If they choose they’ll also pursue more information. But it doesn’t matter if they choose not to. If they’re really interested in pursuing a career or lifestyle that requires them to know certain bits of history, then they’ll find the knowledge they need, and if they choose not to, then it really wasn’t something they were interested in enough to focus their life work on it. The same goes of any other subject,including math. Certainly it might be better, in some ways, to tackle math easily without the aid of a calculator, but people are perfectly capable of living productive,happy lives without knowing how to do calculus. As for basic math, we see the girls already tackling it. Adding and subtraction is necessary in order to play games they enjoy, in order to know ho much money they have/will have in order to purchase items. Math is used in day-to-day life, and as long as we don’t force it on them, they will learn it.

Even within school some subjects are left behind. There’s nothing wrong with skipping certain areas of information. There’s nothing wrong with focusing more heavily on one area, less on others. It is wrong to have someone else arbitrarily decide what areas to focus on, which to leave behind. In school, it doesn’t matter if a student wants to read every work by Jane Austen, what does matter is what the teacher wants the students to read. Some students may pursue their preferred areas of interest on top of school curricula, but not all of them will have the energy. Not all will have the drive.

Which brings me to another point of concern many people express. What about the child that just doesn’t want to learn?

Ultimately I don’t believe that child exists. Certainly there are students that hate school, that refuse to do homework, that disrupt class, that fail. Time after time. It doesn’t mean they won’t pursue what they’re passionate about. It does mean they’re not passionate about the subjects being fired down their throats. When allowed to follow their own path right front he start, students don’t lose their drive. They follow their interests and naturally learn about so many different subjects.

It so happens we were singing songs from my childhood. “Yankee Doodle’ illicit squeals, and sparked interest. Ella wanted to learn more. She wanted to know more about why who Yankee doodle was, about General Washington. She’s since been learning about the American revolution, slavery, women’s rights, and asking tough questions. These are subjects that many students don’t approach until seventh grade, yet at less than five she’s interested and wants to know more. She has the time and energy to pursue many of her interests each week. Gymnastics, horseback riding, dance, sports ball, French. All of these, plus focusing on learning her letters, writing, learning about mammals, cellular biology, earth worms and how they help the garden. These are just a few of the interests expressed in the past week by one child. Each child will be different, but ultimately if an adult allows them the freedom to learn, they will.

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I Won’t Settle For Mud

Someone stirs. Light blinds me as my eyes crack open. Time doesn’t matter – it’s too early. Anytime is too early. One child or another woke up multiple times over the night. I need more sleep, or want it. Somedays I’m not sure. In the moment before my eyes open for the day, I crave it. But there’s nothing to be done, the girls are hungry. I already feel guilty that I say ‘wait’ more often than I care to admit. Just so I can climb out of bed slower.

I pick the baby up and walk down the hall toward the stairs. I envision myself tripping over… something. I switch her to my left hip. Farther from the railing. One. Two. Three. Down the stairs. I’m careful to step to the left side of the curve, I don’t want to fall. We survive the walk down the stairs and I place the baby on the floor. Double check to be sure there are no small bits in a three foot radius around her, I give her a toy, check to be sure here are no loose bits or broken pieces. I walk to the kitchen. I can’t quite see her hands, so I go back and re-adjust. I need to see her hands and face. I Don’t want her to inadvertantly grab something she shouldn’t have.

I wash the table and wish there were no bugs in the house. But the girls love them so I cringe and wash the table, and counters, again. A crumb drops on the floor, I sweep it up, but the broom was sticky and now the floor is likely sticky. Ella asks for breakfast. I tell her ‘just a minute’ I grab the cloth and wipe the floor. Rinse the cloth, ring, and hang it. Just so. Nothing should touch the counter, or risk getting the cloth wet. Bacteria will grow. I wash my hands and grab clean bowls from the dish washer. Pour the cereal and let the girls pour their own milk. Nothing spills. We’re all good.

I wash my hands.

I take my pills. While the girls eat, I clean. I can see where the bacteria grows. I can smell it. Our compost bin’s in dire need of washing. It’s been two days since I last washed it. With biodegradable soap. The girls ask for more food.

I wash my hands. We’ve been awake for roughly fifteen minutes.

I wash the fruit, cut the fruit, place it on clean plates. Then before bringing it to the table, I wash the table. Rinse the cloth, wring it, hang it. Just so. Wash my hands. The cloth wasn’t clean enough for me to handle food after touching t. The fruit is placed on the table.I take the dish cloths to the dirty clothes. Wash my hands. Get clean cloths.

The girls run off to play, food drops from their laps leaving a trail of crumbs behind them as they dash away from me. I clean. I want to bake some muffins. But I know the girls will want to help. I can’t handle raw egg, salmonella, on their hands today. I don’t want them to mix. Flour could get on the counter. There’d be a lot of cleaning. I’d get stressed, and grumpy. I can’t do it. Not today.I wash my hands. They’re probably dirty.

I cut up cheese, fruit, and veggies, and place some crackers on a plate. There’s plenty of food they can have, without stressing about germs or diseases.

I load the dishwasher. Just so. The water needs to cycle around the machine, get the dishes – just right, or they won’t be clean enough.

The girls bring  toys down to the livingroom. I cringe and try not to tell them to take them back upstairs. They just want to play, and be close to Mommy. They drop the toys and lay down on the floor next to Cordelia. They kiss her and cuddle her. They pull her arms this way and that. She smiles and coos. She loves them. But then something happens. Agatha grabs her and hugs her extra hard, then lets her head flop to the floor. She cries.

I dash over and pick her up. Agatha tries to comfort her, but her hugs only make things worse. The look on her face lets me know she’s upset and didn’t mean to hurt Cordelia. But I can’t bite back my words. “You hurt her, step away.” I turn away from her while I cuddle Cordelia. Agatha cries heartbreaking tears. I get angry. I’m angry at her, I’m angry at myself. I’m tired and I can’t stop myself. But I should be able to stop it. I shouldn’t snap. I should foster the love the girls have for each other, instead I push them apart.

I feed Cordelia and the girls ask for shows. I turn the T.V. on and am thankful for the break. It’s 8 O’clock in the morning and I’m already thankful for a break. Luckily we aren’t going anywhere, otherwise I’d also need to get everyone dressed, and snacks packed, but then there’d be no T.V. otherwise we’d never get out the door.

The phone rings, I get up, Cordelia bites me. I wince as I hurry to grab the phone before it completely wakes her up. I step on a wooden block. I scream at the girls to pick them up or there’ll be no more shows.Ella says, “Soprry Mommy.” as she dashes to comply.

The day continues much like that, until Ryan gets home or wakes up. If he’s on nights the evening is a bit smoother, but once the girls are asleep all kinds of thoughts enter my head. I need to double, triple check the doors and windows. The alarm needs to be on. Upstairs Ella’s window and the playroom windows need to be closed. In case someone with a large ladder decided to break into our home and climb in from the garage roof. As I lay in bed willing myself to sleep I think of what I’d do if the house caught fire. How I’d get all three girls out – in less than three minutes. I figure out what I’d do if someone broke in. A baseball bat can do a decent amount of damage, so can a knife, but then so could that metal framed baby chair. Hmm which would give us enough time to get out of there? What if one of those hares that hop around outside tuned out to be a killer bunnie. What if it decided to eat us? Okay, I might not really think about that one, but now that it’s in my head – who knows.

Not everyday is like this. In fact right now I’m doing pretty good. Since becoming aware of these thought patterns, I’m better able to stop and calm down before I let them get the better of me. I still wash my hands.

For me, I have to let go of the clean home. If I begin cleaning, I contine cleaning. If I’m cleaning, they can’t pull out more toys. We fight. They cry and I feel horrible.

Somedays it takes a lot of effort. Other days those toys come down the stairs, I leave the room. I take a few minutes in an orderly space and talk myself through the mess. Tell myself what it means to them. Remind myself that toys on the floor are okay, smiles on little faces are more important. Most days I succeed and we move on without the girls knowing what went through my mind. Other days, when my blood work is off (thyroid) or I’m excessively sleepy, it takes a lot more effort to stay in control of myself. On those days I can only handle so much before I snap. On those days I try to arrange our day to allow me as much time as possible to adjust my thoughts. If we’re out, I take lots of time getting places, and getting home. I wait until they’re ready to go before herding them to the van – if they’re not fighting, I’m not fighting and vice versa. When home I try to set them up with an activity that’ll keep them occupied without infringing on my warped space.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what most of my triggers are, to allow myself the freedom to have  a messy house. To know that htose thoughts aren’t ‘me’ and to get passed them. I know things are heading in the right direction when everyone in our home smiles more than they frow, and laughs more than they cry.

Some days I parent like this. Somedays I can’t stop myself, but those aren’t my ideal. Those aren’t even the most common. But they happen, and I try to learn from them. But mostly I try to survive them. I know they won’t last forever, I know my girls will recover. It’s important to me that Ryan points out when I’m out of line. It’s even more important that both Ella and Agatha tell me. Most recently they’ve began telling me to stand on my head when I’m grumpy. It works. By the time I’m on my head I’m over being grumpy. It also provides an opportunity to reconnect with them, despite harsh words. But they shouldn’t need to regulate me, they shouldn’t feel responsible for my moods. They should be free to love, laugh, play, make messes. One day they will be. For now I shelter them, and myself, from others who see nothing wrong with the things I say or do when I’m upset. It’s hard enough to parent without others telling me to settle for less than I aim for.

Sure, if I aim for the stars, I may not get them, but I certainly won’t settle for mud.

 

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A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

A few days ago a friends on facebook posted lyrics to the  Thankfulness Song – of course the song instantly stuck in my head and next thing you know I’m humming it, singing it, and really wishing it would leave. : ) But a person can’t help but think about what they have when those words stream through the internal speakers of the mind.

So despite what I may say sometimes I’m going to tell you now some of the things I’m thankful for. Hopefully if I’m more open with my thankfulness, then my children will be as well.

I am incredibly thankful for my husband. He has an amazing level of patience and understanding. He’s also kind, caring, considerate and funny. You can even tell him I said so.

I’m thankful for three healthy wonderful little girls who light up my life and show me each day how narrow my view is and how wonderful the world can be.

I’m thankful we live in a place where women and girls are treated respectfully.

I’m thankful for the amazing opportunities we’re able to give our children, fun classes, safe places to play, a chance to grow our own food, see wildlife, and live in freedom.

I’m thankful for the wonderful neighbours we have. We’ve moved into a new home and it’s wonderful to see a smiling face every time our paths cross.

I’m thankful for the many styles of parenting out there. I learn something from every single person/family I encounter and nothing is more valuable.

I’m thankful for the group of Mommies/families we’ve began spending time with recently. Their knowledge is invaluable and even as it’s nice to meet people of differing views it’s empowering and refreshing to meet others whos basic views are the same.

I’m thankful for the free time I have to write.

I’m thankful to live in a world where books are so readily available, I know not everyone has access to a library and many don’t even own books, yet I can read about any topic I choose.

I’m thankful for the abundance we have that allows me to stay home while my children are small. Sacrifices are made, but what our family receives in return are worth much more than we could possibly give up.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to homeschool our children.

I’m thankful for friends with animals, especially dogs. I will be even more thankful when we start visiting those friends (and said dogs) more often.

I’m thankful we have little girls who accept our refusal to get a dog (for now).

I want you to know I’m thankful. I hope to show that more often in my day to day life. It’s a work in progress, but I’m trying.

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Father’s Day

Father’s Day, a day to remind ourselves of the wonderful things fathers do for their wives and children. Here is a wonderful post I read recently and thought I’d share with you.

I’m happy to report that my husband is fully ‘awake’ according to this dad. About the only thing Ryan doesn’t do from this list, is wake the girls up while they’re sleeping – maybe in a few years, but not now. Well, unless you count vacations, when we have places to go etc.

When home, Ryan gets up in the morning with the girls, and lets me sleep. He’s even, once or twice, gotten up at night with them when they’ve woken and needed something.

He does occasionally do something fun for himself, but more often than not, he’s home with us when he’s not working.

He changes diapers, and helps with pottying.

He plays with dolls, has let the girls paint his toes, and even told anyone who said anything about it to bugger off. Pink toenails and little girls that know their daddy loves them were more important that whatever his brothers thought.

I’m sure he does things he doesn’t want to do, but he’s pretty good at hiding it, so I don’t think the girls notice.

When he’s home he’ll watch all three girls while I go for a walk with my sister. Or grocery shopping, or clothes shopping, or to the fabric store. And once upon a time, before we had a baby needing to eat every two to three hours, he’d watch the girls while I wrote, or went to work.

I really hope he’ll figure out how to clean the bathrooms or wash the floors, but for now I’m happy with him folding laundry and doing the dishes. That’s thirty minutes or more a couple times a week where I can re-charge for the week ahead.

He gives the girls hugs and kisses and tells them he loves them. He tickles them, chases them, reads to them and generally spends a lot of quality time with them.

Today, we’re sitting down together and watching “Gnomeo & Juliet” together as a family. Fishing over the side of the second floor railing (catching dollies on the first floor), watching the third day of rain pour down outside our window. And loving life.

I am truly blessed to have found a man that loves his family enough to play with his children and to help his wife. I couldn’t ask for more.

Yesterday was our seventh Anniversary. Each year I’ve grown to love my husband more than the year before. Each year I’ve enjoyed with Ryan more than any other time. From what I can see this next year will continue that trend. Life gets better all the time.

 

 

 

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Put A Little Love In The World

Today was a wonderfully miserable day. Or a miserable, yet wonderful day. I’m not really sure yet.

We move on Thursday, into a freshly built home. We’re all very excited. I get a gourmet kitchen, with a walk-through  pantry to the attached garage, and an office, and his and hers walk-in closets. I’m very excited : )

Ella gets her own room, so does Agatha. Plus they get an untouched basement for bikes and slides untilt he weather warms up.

Ryan will, eventually, have his ‘man cave’. But for now he’s content with his own bathroom sink, a huge soaker tub, and space. Space to do as he pleases. He’s also really looking forward to the multiple storage closets around the house that’ll allow me to hide the clutter easier.

Today, I drove the hour to the city to pay the remaining portion on our new appliances. I brought Cordelia with me. I also brought Ella.

Despite the fact that we only need to make it three more days until we’re in the new house Ella needed new clothes today. Her pants barely graced the top of her boots, and those were a good size too small. Her poor feet were cramped on all sides. Some shirts still fit her in length, but none fit her now much longer arms. Since I needed to drive to the city any way I thought it would be a good idea to buy an outfit or two to get us through the next couple days.

I also needed to buy a new microwave. Ours, the one included in the sale of our old home, died yesterday.

The first problem occurred roughly ten minutes after leaving home. Or rather before leaving home, but created an even bigger problem ten minutes down the road. Ella wanted to use her explorer in the van. However because of carseat placements and my fear of what could happen in the event of an accident Ryan and I said no to the explorer until further notice. Ella was unhappy. She cried. When I still said no, she screamed. When I didn’t give in, she shrieked. I honestly don’t think she was overly upset, her cries were forced. There were no tears. However I do believe she was upset.

Cordelia woke up. She does NOT like the van. And continued to not like the van for the next fifty minutes. I stopped, I burped her, I fed her, I changed her. Nothing satisfied her.

The drive took forever. Neither girl was happy, both girls cried. Loudly.

When we finally made it to Superstore everything improved. Except for the fact that I was wearing Cordelia and microwaves are heavy. But I managed.

When it was finally time to check out I discovered I saved ten dollars. If I had the coupon, that was ten isles over at the entrance. The lady behind us willingly to ran to get it for me. I was so relieved. I couldn’t imagine hauling a resisting Ella and Cordelia all the way to the entrance and back again.

A moment after that I also discovered I received two free clamshells of strawberries. Ella was ecstatic. All day she’d requested berries, but I said no due to cost. The problem? I needed the coupon. It was at a different entrance -plus I needed the strawberries. Cordelia started to cry. I was done. I said “thank you, but I’ll pass.” The teller took pity on me and ran to get the berries and coupon for me. I paid and started to leave. Customer service noticed me pushing a cart one handed while wearing a baby and herding Ella. She called someone to come and help.

The man pushed my cart to the van, loaded it, and then refused the tip I offered him. I’ll admit it wasn’t much, but he refused and said he was paid to push carts and load vehicles so wouldn’t take a tip.

I really couldn’t believe it. In one store, in the space of twenty minutes I met so many people willing to help out. Plus I got free strawberries.

Most days it seems as though people don’t even notice those around them. Everyone looks through everyone else. I’m sure a large part of it was the baby. Everyone loves babies. Whatever the reason it felt really good to have someone else see a person in need and help out without expecting anything in return.

I left the store in a better mood, and better equipped to remain calm with both girls.

Has someone made your day a little easier? A little brighter today? Have you done something to help someone else?

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To a Better Tomorrow

Today was one of those days. After waking up a million times to provide my tenant a bit more elbow room, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Five O’clock, dark outside, and my eyes would not close. So by the time the girls woke up I was a bit, shall we say, lazy. I got them breakfast, then just sat there and watched them run around. That was it. I didn’t try to get them crafts, or games, or anything. And then when they started to hurt each other, I snapped. I raised my voice, and they both looked so dejected. I felt miserable and instantly wanted to make it up to them – so I asked if they wanted to help me make cinnamon buns.

They shook their heads sadly and said they’d rather watch shows. Boy did I feel like the worlds worst mother! I can’t keep up right now, I can’t participate in many of the games they play, I can’t chase them, or swing them, or throw them. If I want to pick them up, I need to sit down first. And if one of them needs me, it takes me a lot longer to navigate the room than it used to.

There I was: tired, and guilt ridden. I joined them for some shows, we had fun talking about what they saw, but even now, I can only handle so much TV before I need to do something. So I got up and fixed them some snacks, and started to make cinnamon buns (and a nice double espresso to get me through the afternoon).

I completely lost track of time and just as the buns were about to go in the oven, I realized the roast was twenty minutes late for it’s date with the oven. It wasn’t even dressed yet, in fact it was still in the fridge. Sigh. One of those days.

Ryan got home, and supper was still cooking. The girls were wild, there was nail polish everywhere, and I was ready to cry.

She was happy. What more could I ask for?

What did Ryan do?

He got down on the floor with the girls and had them giggling in moments. He chased them, helped with a puzzle, got out candyland, admired their newly polished fingers. In short he was the world’s best Daddy ever.

Daddy's Little Princess

As their game allowed he came over hugged me, kissed me and offered to help in whatever way he could. He was already doing so much to help me relax, and he offered to do more.

I am truly a blessed woman. Tomorrow will be a better day.

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