Friday, August 22, 2008

Fun Discipline

Even with unschooling, discipline can be fun.

Rose has started holding her bedroom door over everyone. She locks her siblings out, she slams it when she's mad, she's not quiet coming in and out at naptime when I've asked her repeatedly. So this morning there were lots of slams and siblings banging on the door and Jade crying to be let in (after all, they do SHARE the room now). I decided that perhaps Rose needed to live without a doorknob for a few days to fully appreciate it. So I removed the handle and explained why. She seemed undaunted, as she always does when punished.

Thirty minutes later, Matthew and Rose come bounding downstairs and ask me if they can have the "big American flag towel" from the bathroom closet. I agreed but was curious and asked them why.

"Well, Mom," Matthew started. Talking fast and excited, he explained, "We're putting on a bit of a show and we need the towel for our flag. Rose is going to cut out circles from brown paper and make coins and since she has that hole in her door now, we can use it to sell tickets through!"
[Somehow, I feel that the punishment has become something fun.]

Rose continued, "Yeah, and we're going to do the show about the Presidents!"

Matthew is my instigator. He comes up with grand plans and starts to organize the other kids around him into getting the plan accomplished. He isn't a big do-er, he's more of the director who doesn't dirty his hands. ;) My (first-born) brother would probably say it's a first-born thing but whatever the reason, that's how Matthew is. So he wanted to learn about the Presidents a while back and we started on Washington and that was fun. Then came Adams and let me just save you the time - there *is* no entertaining book about John Adams out there for children to read. Believe me, I've scoured the library and Amazon. It's just not there. Sad but true. So we kinda got stopped dead in our tracks. But with Hubby out of town this week, I was reading bedtime stories in his absence and Matthew picked out the Jefferson book. MUCH better reading. I guess history just knows more about Jefferson's life. After we finished it, he asked me to read it again. So I suppose this is where the grand plan came from.

Another grand plan he's working on is one he came up with purely on his own. The neighbor's grandson has spent a lot of time at her house this summer so all the kids played together a lot. For the past month, Matthew and Jacob have been trying to figure out how to make money selling stuff. First it was going to be a garage sale. I decided that would involve too much of me making sure they didn't have price tags on, say, our new TV and with my back issues, I nixed that. So then they decided to make a Koolaid stand. They made signs and taped them to the outside of the house, they attempted to color the entire driveway in different swatches of color, they sat outside yelling at people walking their dogs to come and have Koolaid. The only problem with the plan was the lack of Koolaid. Hmmm... He decided that they needed a better "draw" and asked me again about having a garage sale. It was at this point that I realized he was very determined about this idea.

"Honey, why do you want to have a sale? What toy are you trying to purchase now?? The new set of Bionicles you've been drooling over, I guess?" He looked up at me with those sweeter-than-sweet baby blues and said, quite irritated, "No, Moooom, we're going to donate all the money we make to people who don't have any money."

My heart melted, as would anyone who heard that from her child. And I felt a little shamed that I hadn't helped him more with his quest of such noble intentions. So we put our heads together and started to think of how he could accomplish this feat and came up with an idea. Our homeschooling group has been wanting to have a garage sale in which we would donate the money to a local humane society. Perhaps they would allow him to set up a Koolaid stand at the garage sale with his proceeds being donated to Feed The Children or a similar charity.

He's very excited at the prospect. He informed me yesterday that Jacob told him that he just has to get the Koolaid Blast flavors because they're MUCH better than regular Koolaid...and people would be willing to pay more money for it. He's talking about signs to make and donation jars to decorate and making a stand. He can't wait to get started.

He and Rose constantly are having new ideas about the house they're going to live in together when they grow up. How they'll work out two families in one house and who can paint and who can cook and who can mow the lawn. Of course, even so, Matthew is still the director and Rose is more the do-er. But it works well for their relationship.

In conclusion, I'm not sure that *my* point was made about the door handle but I'm fairly certain they each learned something about it anyway.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

A few lines from 'You've Got Mail':
Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.

Public school started here this week. Traffic has gotten horrendous, once again, and I'm starting to get "the stares" when I take the kids to the store during the day. I'm usually very confident about our decision to homeschool and our method of homeschooling called unschooling (or interest-driven learning or eclectic learning or relaxed homeschooling or whatever you'd like to call it). But for the first few weeks of public school in the fall, I do wonder. I see the young elementary kids happily standing at the bus stops, shiny new backpacks in hand and expectation on their faces and I get a twinge of...doubt.

Are my kids missing out? Would they like school? Most of my questions are social in nature...questions about making new friends and listening to another adult, following directions, etc. Then I realize that those thoughts are from the public schooled kid inside me.

When my big picture comes back in focus, the reality is that I don't really think those things are important. Would they like school? They might...for a week...or maybe even a year. But most kids that I see, somewhere around 3rd - 4th grade, lose that excitement and happiness about going to school that you see on the 1st graders. I'm not sure exactly why or how it happens but it does wane around that age.

Do they need to listen to another adult? I know people think that's important but really, why? I teach my kids to submit to authority. Why is it important that they practice it with someone else? And if is indeed important, they have Sunday School teachers and extra-curricular teachers and babysitters and grandparents where they can get their practice in.

Following directions occurs naturally in life, non-stop, and that's a very silly reason to send someone off to school. Where do these thoughts come from? Just yesterday I was showing Matthew how to load the dishwasher. Directions. I've been teaching Rose how to clean the bathroom and Jade how to help with laundry. Directions. When Matthew gets a new box of Legos or Bionicles, they include directions that he must follow or it won't look like the creation on the box. Their computer games have directions. Everywhere you go in life, there are directions. Park here. Stand in line here. Use this bathroom. Swipe your card here. Stop at this red light. Drive from here to there.

As for friends, we have homeschooled friends. We also have MOPS friends and church friends and neighbors...and they have their other siblings as well. Probably the very best friends they'll ever have are their siblings and they are all truly the best of friends. They have their moments, obviously, but they get along a million times better than my brothers and I did. It warms my heart to see how much fun they have together.

Then again, I've always had the impression that doubts were bad. But somewhere along the line, I've changed my stance and now believe that doubts are quite healthy. Doubts stretch us and make us re-evaluate our beliefs/thoughts/feelings. If we didn't have doubts, we might never discover anything in life. Doubts also teach us about ourselves. This process I seem to go through each fall only helps, in the end, to strengthen my resolve to continue on this path.

I think about what we've been learning lately. Rose is writing stories (which I must post for you) and Matthew is studying the presidents and learning to type (and working on spelling at the same time). We're all learning about being in a large family and helping out with chores. Jade is asking many questions about reading lately. "How do you read that?" "What sound does that make?" She's well on her way to being an early reader like her siblings. I've always felt inadequate in geography and recently found a great tool to improve my skills on it via a friend's blog. Last night, I memorized the European countries. Perhaps my interest will stir something in them as well.

So I might just give in to the urge to buy a bouquet of sharpened pencils for my table centerpiece. It might be a good reminder of this time of growth in my homeschooling experience.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jewelry Give-Away

A blog I read is having a jewelry give-away. And if you post about it on your own blog, you get an extra entry. I'm not one to typically wear jewelry (and allergies make flowers impossible for Hubby to give me), so this is a very unique request from me. But I truly LOVE this piece and would love to have it so I'm blogging for my extra entry. Check it out! :) Jewelry Give-Away

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Don't Shoot Me

Nope, not another catchy blog title about my injections. This one is B.I.G.

A friend called me up today and said, "Hey 80's music lover...I have tickets to the Poison concert this weekend. And I get a tour of the tour bus. And, I get to ride IN THE BUS to the concert." I was speechless.

"Wanna come with?"

Wow. I have to say, my first thought was, 'Poison...yeah, I know they were big...what did they specifically sing?' [insert blog title here] So I quickly threw some Teddy Grahams at the screaming hungry baby and got on youtube. I found their Rose song. Awww...I **LOVED** that one. Something in me just loved it when those hard rock bands would do a mellow song. The Rose song has such great harmonization! Then I found "Talk Dirty To Me". I wasn't ever a fan of that song but it brought back lots of memories. We had a juke box in our high school cafeteria. I'm 99% sure that song was one that I heard over and over and over and over during lunch....daily....for four years (reason #732 to homeschool, but that's another post).

But then I tried to imagine myself in Poison's bus. I just couldn't. What would a person even wear to such a thing?? Would I need to dig up some painters pants and a big over sized shirt with a standing collar and a big chunky belt? Slouch boots? I don't have enough hair anymore to do a side ponytail! I just could not picture mommyfied-me doing something like that, though I know there are many, many who would give their eye teeth for that opportunity, and still more who would gladly don the appropriate 80's garb.

Still, the experience itself would be SUCH an experience! And isn't that the great part of life (and one of the core ideas behind unschooling)...the experiences?? How would that experience change my ideas, images, thoughts, etc.? I was so tempted to go just because of the life-learning experience I could obtain.

But [insert blog title here], the kids have a birthday party. And we have another family birthday party at the same time that I was planning to rush off to after the first was over. It's a busy night. And Hubby is out of town next week. I decided to forgo the experience for my kiddos. Now, if the same experience was offered with Amy Grant, I'd move Heaven and earth to make that one happen, no doubt about it. My inner child would finally be at peace if I were to experience that.

In the end, I feel ok about my decision...I think. I'm cracking jokes with Hubby like, "If I'm ever gonna try pot, I don't want it to be second-hand smoke in a musty tour bus anyway" and "My ears can hardly handle the four kids - I'd never be able to handle front row seats at a rock concert".

And, if my kids ever become fans of the group, I'll just have to say, "[insert blog title here]".

Friday, August 08, 2008

Absurd inventions, towels and weather

It's the little things in life that drive me nuts. Check out this new product that I ran across today:

It's called "Squirt Baby Food Dispenser". First off, any seasoned mom will avoid ANY product that even hints of squirting, much less by placing it on the title. And any new mom should at least see that this starts out "squirt baby". I'm guessing a more appropriate name would be "Squirt Mom, Baby Food Dispenser". As if moms aren't squirted enough with baby food, they had to go and create an object that adds to the mess. How lovely.

Come on, invent something useful. Like a device that makes it impossible for a 16 month old to yank the hand towel off the bar for the 175,463rd time in the same day. I'm thinking one of those plastic baggie clips but only know, towel sized...would do nicely.

They're so close right now...clips and towels in the same photo. WHY hasn't anyone come up with that yet?

So, your mission this weekend is to scour every store you enter for a device that will accomplish my goal. I know, it's school shopping season and everyone will be out if they have the pretty weather we do. 81F for a high today!!! Usually it's 100 or more this time of year. For the next week, it's all temps in the 80's. Must be all that global warming I keep hearing about. Anyway, if you find a device that's meant to keep my children from leaving the towels on the bathroom floor (apart from electroshock gadgets), I'd be willing to do something big. B-I-G big. I know I've seen one out there at some point but alas, my googling skills are shoddy today.

Have a great weekend and keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Update on Sickly

So on top of her nasty cold and eczema and cutting those darned incisors (which I swear are *the* most painful for all my kids) and her foot massacre and subsequent sewing up last night, she had two shots today. She needed her tetanus booster and while we were getting one, we decided to get another one caught up also so she got her #3 Hep B too. Poor thing has every reason to cry and fuss and whine and want to do nothing but have a cuddle.

But she's not. She's even smiling and pulling herself up to stand on that poor foot. She does NOT want to be constrained in the high chair and my ped said it's probably ok to let her stand on it a bit since she's not fully walking or running yet. It'll be my luck that she'll do it today, the day she really "shouldn't" learn.

But there's that sweet angelic smile staring up at me with those big blue eyes. She's even feeling well enough to do her familiar head-bonks...and hard enough to cause me to yell 'owwww', to which she laughs. What a trooper!

Matthew is a sensitive soul, as I've said before. After we left for the hospital last night, Grammy found him in his room, "just bawling his eyes out". He blubbered out, "I just didn't expect it to happen to her at such a young age!" She talked him down after a bit, telling him again that Linnae was going to be just fine. After he calmed down, he decided that he wanted to clean the kitchen for me. So he set out unloading and reloading the dishwasher and then grabbed the vacuum. Grammy worked on the kitchen counters and put dinner away. Rose grabbed the duster and broom while Jade cleaned the dinner table off. What a sweet surprise greeted us at 12:30a when we finally made it home!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Apparently the Pen *IS* Mightier Than the Sword

Linnae proved it tonight. At 16 months (and still refusing to walk without holding something), she's using anything and everything to pull herself up these days. This evening, she made a bad choice. She chose the electric pencil sharpener cord. She was sitting on her knees with her feet bent behind herself and the pencil sharpener hit her just right apparently. Blood gushing everywhere. We applied pressure for a good while, Hubby washed with alcohol and applied a firm bandage. Still bleeding. So we called Grammy over to watch the other three while we took Linnae to the ER.

We had a medical student in training so aside from telling the receptionist, two nurses, the billing lady, the doctor and I'm sure several others, we also had to tell her the story. They looked at it (and it was still bleeding good) and determined that stitches would indeed be needed.

So they brought in iodine first and had us hold her foot in it "for 10 minutes. I'll watch the clock because it's exactly on time with my watch". After forty-five minutes of crying and screaming and pure exhaustion, they came in and took her foot out of the bath.

The nurse laid Linnae on her belly on the nurse's lap and they put two stitches in. It was still bleeding pretty well so they wrapped it up tight for 20 minutes.

Then they came in and loosened the bandage and sent us to Walgreens for antibiotics. I need to see if she's had her 12 month tetanus shot tomorrow (we're a little behind on a couple because we switched pediatricians).

I only had my camera phone but it's better for posterity than nothing. ;) All in all, she was a trooper. She really let it out while they were doing the stitches but other than that, most of her crying was just being super over-tired. And, as you can see from the pictures, she was quite calm at times.

So I get to spend a week "keeping her foot elevated and try to keep her from putting too much pressure on it". Yeah. OK. At least it's on the underside of her foot...only her pedicurist ever need know. ;)

She's baaaaaaack

Big Bertha kicked my rear last night. Took forever to fall asleep, then I was really hot then chills for several hours, waking repeatedly. I was actually happy to see the sun this morning. Every muscle in my body is sore like I have the flu. Good thing dinner's also being provided.

My MOPS group got wind of my shot experience and decided to put me on the Meals For Moms list this week. It's a very sweet gesture though last week, when I was doing ok on the lower dose, it seemed a little unnecessary. But they wouldn't take no for an answer and today, I have to say, "Hallelujah!" Sometimes I just try to do too much and not accept help from others. I'm so glad God found a way around my stubbornness to provide dinners this week because apparently I'll need an extra hand or two.

In other news, I have a new nephew. Yes, it seems the family is reproducing like bunnies. He's out of state so I'll post pictures when I get them. :)

The kids dug out Matthew's box of Transformers from the basement yesterday. When he got his new bed last spring, we cleaned out his room and downsized the toys. He wasn't playing much with his Transformers anymore but he wasn't quite ready to give them up completely. So we put them in a labeled box downstairs in storage and I hadn't heard another word about them. Until yesterday. He and Rose, mostly, are having a blast with them - like brand-new toys. I'm glad they're getting more use out of them. After all, there's a small fortune worth of Transformers here, certainly more than meets the eye. ;)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

You may not see me for a while

I just discovered digital scrapping. I know, I'm LATE to the game...very late. I fought against it, I ignored it, I thought I needed expensive programs for it and I was wrong. There, I said it. Wrong-o = me. May I present to you, my first ever digital scrapbook page....

Easy peasy!! You know how much I love my free source Photoshop look-alike, GIMP!! It was all done with my dig camera, GIMP and some free digital scrapping papers/embellishments, etc. WOW. I'm gonna have fun with this. :)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

My 365's Finally Updated

I've finally taken the time to update my 365 blog. Almost a month of entries but it's current now. So wander on over there and check it out. ;)