Sunday, August 29, 2010

A million emotions at the fair

We went to the fair last night. I heard that the prices were ridiculous. They were. One of the downsides to having 5 children is money. Taking that many children to the fair is either a fortune or the kids miss out on rides, games and treats. I was considering not taking them but they were SO excited I didn't want to disappoint them. I prayed while going in because I didn't want my children to feel like they were missing out.
We had $35 to spend. Yikes! $10 of this was just getting in. How were we going to do this?
We got enough tickets for them to be able to go on one ride each.
Reagan chose a kiddie car ride. The guy working the ride allowed Cohen to go on with her for free so she didn't get scared. So two kids for the price of one! We then headed over to this climbing rope maze because that was Ricky's pick. It was only 3 tickets instead of 4 so Amelie got to go through with her. This was working out wonderfully! We then head over to the bumper cars because that was Cohen and Amelie's pick. We had enough to let Ricky go on too! I was actually praying in the line that they would allow me to go on for free with Cohen so that he could drive himself. I mean, what is the difference if the car is being used anyways, right? Wrong! They had so.many.rules regarding safety that Ricky couldn't go on.
Cohen had to be tall enough to go on the cars. He was. BUT he had to go on with someone taller than the next line. Amelie had to be taller than the highest line. She was. So Cohen and Amelie went in the same car. Ricky wasn't taller than the tallest line and didn't have someone taller to go with. :( He wouldn't let me on with her without tickets (because we all know how much adults get out of this ride!) Grrrrr! I was SO MAD! Ricky was bawling and I felt awful for her.
We had 4 tickets for her still so she chose to go on a roller coaster (a smaller one) Now I am terrified of rides (heights) so my stomach was in my throat watching Amelie and Ricky on it. (He let Amelie for free to go on with Ricky) They were trying to smile when they went by but they were terrified. (So was I just watching them)
Well while the girls are on this ride (shudder) this wonderful man allowed Reagan and Cohen to go in the jumping castle. We only paid for Reagan and he told Cohen to get in too. When the girls were done their ride he opened up the jumping castle and told them to get in too! By this time I am holding back tears. They had a great time in there. I told him thank you because the kids couldn't go on many rides. He said he likes to let kids on for free especially when he sees big families. Was that an answer from God? I think so.
Just before we left we bought a bag of cotton candy. We sat in a circle on the grass and ate our chunk of it. The feel would have been completely different if they all had their own bag.
We have such a close and together family full of love. I love my life!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I could go into the annoying conversation I had with another mom at swimming lessons about unschooling but I am not. I am focusing on my children and how proud I am of them. Amelie and Ricky can now SWIM! What a relief! Cohen is like a little fish in the water. A very loud fish.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In my quest in finding my most favorite blogs I have found the most touching, amazing blog!

I feel selfish keeping it all to myself. (And his 165 followers)

He is an unschooling dad who shares his feelings, thoughts and life with the blogging world.
It is captivating and raw.

Here it is:

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I am Neely

I have a hard time with labels.

I have a hard time looking around the corner of the box.

A while back I joined a gym. I bought some sporty clothes with running shoes. I observed what people wore and how they wore their hair. It was a whole different style.
If you know me, you know that I dress either "normal" or in a natural style way. I buy Organic food and would love to live in the woods wearing only natural materials.
If you haven't noticed already, these are two different styles. Some days I wash my hair with vinegar and baking soda and some days I want a wonderfully smelling shampoo and conditioner.
So this makes me an eclectic style.

Being a Christian.
Lets face it. There is a group for every interest and every religion. I am a Christian. I felt like I fit in with the Christian "group." Then I come to realize I may not have the same views on some topics. For ex. I don't believe that children from other countries will go to Hell because they were taught something else and were not exposed to Christianity. I actually tried to force myself to believe every.single.thing about Christianity but if I am true to myself, I just don't. So does this mean I do not fit in with the group? There is another group I don't completely fit in.

As you know, I completely believe in the philosophy of unschooling. I see the results daily.
I see how radical unschooling can work but I don't fully follow that. My children eat what they want and how much they want. If they want thirds they are more than welcome yet if they don't want more than 3 spoonfuls, that is ok too. I don't go so far as allowing them as much junk as they want. I am not against that for other families but not for mine. They have a bedtime. Would you consider me a relaxed unschooler? Where is my label? Where is my title?

I have come to realize that I do not fit into a mold. I do not fit in a perfect, little box that can be placed on a shelf quietly. I do not fit into society's shape. I am not a sheep.
I am a loving mother and wife. I care greatly about others and help as much as possible. Isn't that what is the most important?
I am Neely.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food Control

Ahhhhh Food! Food can be a beautiful thing. It nourishes your body and gives you the pleasure of so many wonderful tastes. Food can gather a family from busy times either around the dinner table or our favorite...on the grass having a picnic.
Or food can be a disastrous, relationship stopping thing. Food can be used as a crutch or used as a form of control from a parent.
I have seen many a fight over food between child and parent. I have heard threats such as these, "You stay at that table until you are finished!", "You won't get any dessert!", You will go to bed without any dinner!" What is this teaching them? My control over this situation is superior to the way you feel. It doesn't matter if you like the food or if you are not hungry.
When was the last time you heard a spouse say to another spouse, "You eat that food or you get nothing!" Hopefully never. So why is this so appalling for an adult but not for a child. One word...RESPECT. When you respect your child you care whether they like a food or not, whether they are hungry or not and LISTEN to and HEAR them.
Now what will happen if you listen? Are you afraid they will run all over you and demand the world? Are you afraid they won't have all of the nutrients they need? Are you afraid they will starve themselves? Or are you afraid of losing control?
Before I had Cohen I prided myself on how my children ate. How twisted is that? Oh my children eat whatever I give them! Until I had Cohen.
From about the age of 1, Cohen has been extremely picky. He will not eat most foods. He would literally not eat pizza if it was cut into a square. If I forced him (which I remember quite clearly doing one time) he would gag and bawl. This left me bawling as well. That incident was everything control and nothing respect.
I respect my son enough to put out the extra effort of learning what he will eat. Enough effort to prepare him something separate. Enough effort to take his feelings and self esteem into account.
He will not eat casseroles, most veggies (umm all veggies), some fruit, stews, meat (except nuggets) and the list goes on. Lets list what he will eat! Bread, peanut butter, jam, grilled cheese, pizza (just cheese), garlic bread, perogies, chicken nuggets, bananas, raisins, grapes, blueberries, apples, watermelon, cherries, cheerios, juice with veggies in it, almond milk. That is the basic foods he will eat. Look how much I have to work with! He will try some food that we are eating and will sometimes decide he likes it. Like this morning he ate a nuts and fruit granola bar! How exciting!
I feel it is more important to instill closeness and respect with my children than control over what they eat. He is one very healthy little boy not only physically but emotionally as well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

We took a trip to the recycling plant. I was surprised to see the excitement about the ins and outs of recycling. I thought they would be all over the big machines mashing up the bottles and cans. Even Cohen was picking up the information. Ever since the kids have been telling me to recycle and how. This is an important lesson that I wouldn't have thought to give. We go about our days and I will share information on what *I* feel is important and the kids can retain it or not. Recycling is important.
Ron and I have finally decided on a goal. We are saving up to buy land up North. Then while we live here we are going to build a self sustaining house and then move on out there. Sure this will take a while but well worth it. How could I not have thought to give the kids more information on how important it is to recycle?

Monday, August 9, 2010

'Raw' from an unschooling ma

I bet you guys think I am an awesome mom. That I have the laundry finished and never yell at my children. I am sorry to disappoint you but that is not the case.
I was reading a blog the other day and she had shared some 'rawness' in her post. I thought about how I never share that side of me with anyone but my closest family and friends. I like to portray myself as the perfect parent while our days are not perfect.
When people read this I would like it to help them. I am human. You are human. We all have our secret little moments that we keep to ourselves. I am going to share a bit about me and how I feel. The Raw side of me.
I am a guilt parent. I read so many books about how to be the best parent I can be. I don't read the mainstream ones but the gentle parenting books. I love to read. The negative side of that is guilt. My guilt to not live up to the perfection I want. I yell. Sometimes for a whole hour I am in a foul mood and say mean things. Things like..."Only babies poop in their underwear!" That was my doozy today. :( When I get frustrated I have a hard time guarding what I say. Sure I have a sit down afterward with said child but it still makes me feel like a horrible parent and that I am damaging who they are. My worst comment came a few years ago when I hurt Ricky somehow. I don't remember what happened. Like I picked her up too roughly or something like that. She said, "You hurt me!" I then said back, "I'm glad I hurt you." Isn't that the worst? Of course instantly I apologize and sometimes have a few tears. It doesn't make it right though.
Sometimes I will sit for hours and read a book! If it is a good one I can totally tune my children out and read. I take care of them but the house falls apart. They may ask for something and get the response..."When this page is done." I have always wanted my children to know how important they are but sometimes I think I fail that by my actions.
I "cook" chicken nuggets and perogies at least once a week. Sandwiches maybe twice a week. I am not a home cooked meal kinda gal. I do want that though. I want to be that mom who has dinner cooking all day and placed on the table with the family all sitting together. Last wk I went for a bath and a book while my family ate. I needed a break when Ron woke up. I did order a good vegetarian slow cooker book that I am looking forward to. I see many more home cooked meals on the horizon.
I have doubts on occasion about unschooling. I don't doubt the philosophy. I doubt my laziness as a parent. Some days there isn't anything fun that we have done together. Doing art together, reading, singing... We are working on this. But I always seem so sure of myself and my parenting but I am not. I have doubts like the best of them.
On the flip side, I am always there for my children. I will never put them in a situation that they are not comfortable with. I am their rock. I cuddle/hug/kiss them endlessly and they know how much they are loved. I am very open with my feelings and they are open with theirs. We are a very close and attached family. I feed them nutritiously and teach them about God.
I know that my children are wonderful and beautiful children. They are amazing. I just need to start seeing that in myself more.
So there it is. Raw from an unschooling ma.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When to let go

We were given three Monarch caterpillars at a homeschool meeting. You wouldn't think caterpillars are so picky with which food they eat but they are. Monarch's eat milkweed.
We were lucky enough to go through the process of caterpillar to butterfly. In the first picture, you can see one green cocoon and two caterpillars hanging upside down just about to turn. The green then turns to black and shortly after the butterflies emerge. How wonderfully beautiful. Through this process I witnessed a strong resemblance to raising my own children. You take care of them and then set them free. That is the short version of it. If you are me, you go more in depth with that thought.
I find that society is very quick to rush their little children to independence. The 1st's are celebrated with great enthusiasm. Moms hands hold baby Ruth's tiny hands as she guides her steps. A cheer erupts at a 1st tooth emerging. Baby sleeps through the night and mom gets awed "lucky you's" from friends and family. When I had Amelie and Ricky I was right in with the crowd. I was that mom rushing my babies to grow. Proud when they spoke their first word and calling Ron at work when they laughed for the first time. Sure memories are to be had there but what was I really celebrating? With my youngest children I allowed them to follow their own rhythm. I let them walk when they were ready and let Cohen decide when he was ready to use the toilet. It seems parents are in such a hurry to get them potty trained and sleeping through the night. This comes with Crying It Out Methods or Baby Sleep Training methods. This comes with accidents in pants and frustrated parents. (And maybe a few poops on the floor. Who can forget that?) Part of Unschooling is trusting in your children to know what they "need" to learn at any given time. It doesn't stop there. They eat when they are hungry (no waiting for dinner here!), they play when they want and sleep as long as they want. I allow their independence in a different way. I don't rush them into life but allow them to live their life. Too soon our children will be headed out the door into the big, wide world and we will be thinking...where did the time go?
I notice that I am very On with my children. Some may say I am overprotective or overbearing. I am THAT parent who is always there allowing my children to come to me if they need. I am at arms reach when my two year old is climbing high on the monkey bars. I am at ears reach when my daughter comes running into my arms in tears because her friends are being mean. I am there. I am their mom and there is no where else I would rather be. Literally. Am I hindering their independence? Am I stunting their growth? Phooey! I am their rock. I am their net when they fall...and they will fall. I am safe. I am mom.
I let go when my child is the only one in the sandbox, munching away. I let go when my child makes up a song about bums. I let go when my children drink rootbeer floats for dinner.
I am not in a rush to see them grow up and go. Why not allow our children the independence they crave (food, sleep...) and stop trying to shove their independence at them so they will grow up faster? I know I am in no hurry to let go.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Is Imagination a thing of the past?

Some cardboard pieces Ron brought home from work.

The kids playing with the blocks TOGETHER.

A noodle box Cohen was using as a garage for his cars.

Cohen emerging out of a cocoon as a butterfly.

In my teenage years I remember having a discussion about imagination and how times have changed. I still think and reflect on that conversation. When I was young I was outside climbing trees, catching frogs, making forts and making mud pies. (Yes I was a tomboy) I am not going to get into why our children are not going outside like we used to. (maybe another post) I am going to talk about WHAT we played with. I don't recall using plastic guns that have a million sounds built into them. I don't recall legos that had the design planned for you on the box and the exact amount of pieces. I don't recall plastic kitchens with miniature food. What I do recall is running around the house with sticks for guns and making the sounds, building with legos WHATEVER I wanted to make and grabbing blankets to make picnics with real food. Sure I had skip-its and those toys that you stood on and bounced, slinkies and skipping ropes. I am not completely against plastic toys at all. I don't sit at birthday parties brooding and picturing landfills overflowed with this long forgotten garbage. I do however picture the children's imagination seeping out of them. When we have toys that make every sound, light up in every different color and jump when you say jump, it takes that away from the child. In our house we have two toy boxes. One for toys and one for cars/trucks, tracks (basically Cohen's toy box) My children much rather a large cardboard box or some paper and new crayons. My child's imagination is much more important to me than a surprised look on a holiday. What would we do with a world full of people using their imaginations?
Recently I received a "Blog with Substance" award from Leslie. My it felt good to be recognized! Since, I have been collecting 10 blogs that I can pass this on to. Here are the rules...

•Thank the blogger who awarded it to you.
•Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience using ten (10) words.
•Pass it on to 10 other blogs which you feel have real substance.

I tend to over think things so that ten word philosophy may take me a while. ;)

And guess what! I won 3 wonderful books!!! Check out Leslie's blog and you will see! I don't win things very often so when I do it is very exciting!!!
THANK YOU Leslie for making my day. :)