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Sunday, September 28, 2008

1st Soccer Game

Saturday was Elias'  first soccer game. Ever. He got up in the morning,  excited but "nervous"...he's so funny. His team, The Green Goblins, are a 5 & 6 yr olds team. Elias is 7, but because he's a tiny little thing, and has had overall delays, he's put in with this age group.  There are actually 2 kids on the team taller than him; he fits right in! There are no scores "given" , it's playing just "for fun". No pressure.

I didn't know what to expect. First of all, past experiences with older kids have shown that our kids aren't too sports savy...although this kid is all boy, and all energy.  Add to it, it was a sweltering 96 degrees, and the game was at high noon with no shade to be found.

The kid took off!  He was on the field first (they play 4 on 4). He was amazing!  He got in there, kicked the ball, was always running, he did great!

He's such a ham though.  My husband always swears if he was in school he'd be the class clown. He asked me 1/2 way through if I was routing for his team. And he asked loudly enough that the 2 moms sitting next to me started laughing.

Then, <gasp> he scored a goal!  he had tried a couple of times, but missed, and he did it!! When he got called out, he told me "It was about time I scored one". What?!?!  goofball, it's your FIRST GAME!  He scored the 2nd goal of the game!! He's so funny!!

He had a blast!  I'm so proud!

Look how cute! He's #5

Here he is, just out there getting it!

And here's The Goal! I can't believe I got this shot!

Go Green Goblins!!  (And, btw, they won!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Incredible Hulk?!?!

We got to Awanas last night, after being absent last week, and found out it was Crazy Hair Night. Another mom asked if we wanted to use her green hair spray, and so...The Incredible Hulk was born!

Here it is, starting to wear off...can you believe it?

Here's the top of his shoulda seen his pillow this morning!  Acchh! It's going to take a few washings!

This was Elias' first experience with colored hair spray.  He LOVED it! I'm surprised I got him to shower tonight! I'm sure you'll eventually see more colored hair pictures <giggle>.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm Bacccckkkkkk

Well, I am guilty...I let time slip away and day after day without blogging. The problem with this is,I stop taking so many pics and my family doesn't always know the cute little day to day things we're doing. So....I'm back!

I figure this will be a short post...I've thought about getting back to blogging for a long time now, but cataloging all the missed events was too overwhelming. So....I'm not going to even try!  I might sprinkle in some things we did over the past few months, but I'm not going to try for one long post describing everything...can't happen!  Starting here and now, with the here and now!

I'll give you a quick tease/summary about the things we're up to this year...and pics and descriptions will follow in the days and months to come!

Brian this year is back to his fascination of Japanese. We've got a wonderful tutor coming in to the home, conducting a small class of homeschoolers, 1x a week, for 2 hours.  It's very intense and he loves it!  He's also taking biology with lab and apologetics, at a local homeschool group. Of course, his main love is still computers!  Well, add to that, texting. He has a gaggle of friends, mostly girls  (sorry, camm and matt, no offense!). He's active in our new's small but has a heart for outreach and love!  That's Brian in a nutshell...which of course isn't the whole story..remember, just a teaser!!

Elias is cuter than cute.  He's so wonderful!  Growing up so quickly, but still in some areas a mommas boy..and so loving and compassionate.  He's learning to read, is on his 2nd year of math-u-see, just became a Tiger cub last night , is in his 2nd book of Sparks  (Awanas Program) and doing soccer  (as he'd say, finally! ). He also does speech at the local school...and is just all around ACTIVE!!  Oh!  And we started a book club..based on the Magic Tree House's super cool and he's enjoying that!

Sebastian...well..I don't know if a 2 yr old could be any cuter!  Little Lovely is now running all over the place, doing some signs...still doesnt have any real words down, but is repeating a lot of sounds and sound repetitions.  He's in great over-all health, very chunky!  He's still keeping me busy with various appointments, mostly now through our state Early Intervention program. He's been without the G-Tube since May...gastro is pleased with his growth, and ability to eat, and his diet, and only need to go back on an as needed basis.  It's nice to slow down all the dr. appointments! 

I often say times are a season.  Sometimes it's rough, sometimes time flies by, sometimes it's easy...but it's all a quickly changing season.  We have had our share of rough and time-consuming seasons.  This year the focus is back on kids, and learning experiences, instead of doctors!  YEAH!! Praise God!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, that's it for now...I will keep things updated more often, and with pics soon too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Is Unschooling?

Unschooling - State Mandates - My Story -
Can Christians Unschool?

Unschooling is child led learning! It is not dictated by mom, by "grade level" by "shoulds" or "should nots". It is simply following your child. I used to use this example....just because babies learn to walk, does that mean that at 10 months you start FORCING them to? holding them up and berating them when they fall down? Because SOME kids start at 10 months? Or, do you follow their lead, encourage them, give them time, give them tools, as they appear ready?!!

That's the way it should be with all learning! It shouldn't be forced, it shouldn't be because some administrator who doesn't know your child, dictates it to be time...this homeschooling business is all about our individual children!!

If they want to learn about rockets for 5 years, or 5 minutes, that's AOK with me! If they want to learn about the American Revolution in 3rd grade, who am I to say, sorry, that's a 4th grade topic?!?!

This is from a post I sent to my local support group last year:

I call myself "the door-opener". I'll open a million doors for the kids and see what interests them and then I'm "the resource-gatherer" and "the taxi" and "the money-machine". But, don't forget I'm also often "the co-learner".

I do not teach during certain hours. We fall into an always learning category. That doesn't meant they are always learning (just 90% of the time!), but it means I am always on the prowl for educational inspirations. Numerous examples:

  • Dressing room of Walmart..they give you those number placards for items...when my son was 4, he'd run from door to door and read the number, saying it aloud. I ENCOURAGED him to do this. Number recognition! Does nottttttttt need to come solely from a workbook.

  • Speed limit oldest learned his double digit numbers and concept of adding while we were in the car...,"What's two five? 25! Whats 2 + 5? 7!"

  • When we're eating apples, I point out that they are RED

  • When we're drawing houses I point out they are square with a triangle on top

These are little kid examples, but you will find if you get in that mode, the info you "give" gets age appropriate. The other day my oldest was talking about LSD and it's molecular structure (ok, this sounds really geeky...I'll explain more...he's got this screen saver that shows molecular structures of all sorts of's tied in with a study on the periodic table of elements..ANYWAY!) I started explaining about nerve inhibitors and that's why people on it can set themselves on fire etc and "not feel" anything, which led to talking about amputees etc etc. We're always learning!!!

Now, no, we aren't always actively pursing "molecular structures" and such...we have lots of play time, but a lot of our "play" is also learning.

I'll give you a big kid and a little kid example of playing=learning.
  • Little kid...I have this "cash box" and has all sorts of money in it, bills and coins. My 6 yr old LOVESSS to play "McDonalds" One of us "drives up" and orders, the other is the cashier. At first it was all about coin recognition, front and back and coins' worth. NOW its just starting to be about making correct change now that we know its value.

  • Big older son loved NeoPets. They offered him his own page and an HTML guide and he took it from there....he "played" and built his own page and learned HTML. NOW he knows HTML, XHTML, XML, and CSS. He has just taken over MY websites and is actually more advanced than me (I get yelled at now for my "antiquated ways").

Last year my oldest son's interests were the computer (mostly website building and blogging) and Japanese. We listened to Japanese music, he bought Japanese writing utensils and practiced writing, he made spreadsheets with all the different words he knows, and the various sets of characters (dialects? I dunno!) cooked Japanese foods, read Japanese for Dummies, the list goes on and on!

This year, he is "taking a break from Japanese" (Thank GOD!) and more working on programming and computer graphics. He is currently running "dual operating systems" on his computer, Windows and Linux, he has torn apart and rebuilt not only our old computer, but his BRAND NEW ONE (gasp!!!) and re-did mine and saved/transferred all the data when mine crashed. He knows so much more than I do! He surpassed me in website building last year, now knows and uses CSS and XML ("HTML is so OLD , mom!!! Soon, no one's going to be able to read your pages")

He has many interests and abilities that astound me. He loves to read the Left Behind Series. His knowledge of Revelations supersedes mine, and is actually embarrassing! He laughingly told me that OF course there are dragons in the bible, haven't I read revelations?:!?!? We recently purchased the Tim LaHaye study "Revelation Unveiled" and Brian will be attending the upcoming Dare To Share, which is centered on Revelations this year!

I'm telling you, no matter what the topic/interest is...I can find resources for it! One son LOVES comic books. He loves the format, the way they flow.....During a trip to an old Fort, I found Epic Battles of the Civil War comics...totally cool! A friend mentioned that there are Classics in Comic Book format...and recently I found books of the Bible in Comic Book format! The Book of John.

Now you're going to ask me, "What if my child wants to go to college?" These are the types of things EACH family must decide for each child…you will have to decide on what to do to “play the game”…be it transcripting, be it taking certain classes, earning credits, whatever it will need…that is unschooling in its prime…working your way towards your self-imposed goal…but these are just that, self-imposed! Not mandated by your state.

I would encourage you, even within your close family, in-laws, cousins, those who question this lifestyle…to think on a few things…how we learned best from baby 'till school-age…we learned the MOST important things, walking, talking, potty-training, and we did it all on the kid's own individual time tables. THEY led us, we used their cues (we didn’t try to potty train our 5 mo old, we sure didn’t have our 2 day old trying to walk, etc) Also…do some research on “teachable moments”…Even schools are seizing this as an important part of learning…and not just for preschoolers, but all across the ages.

Here's another great question: "What about our state laws regarding homeschooling? How can I unschool in my state?" As far as Child Protective Services is concerned, no agency SHOULD ask more from you than the state law requirements. Know your homeschool laws. Have them available to show and explain if questioned. Chances are they will overstep their bounds, but as long as you are following the law, you should be able to maintain your composure. If you are worried about having something to show someone…there are many ways to "show you're learning". Various local support groups offer standardized testing, the results come to YOU not a school…you could avail yourself of that yearly, every 2 years, every 4 years, whatever you want… could keep a loose portfolio with samples of work, book lists, brochures from field trips etc, you can transcript your lessons….there are books out there that teach you how to do that, or computer programs that do it for you once you input your info….most of this is all about learning to TALK THEIR TALK!

The story of how I started unschooling! When Brian was 3 we went to the beach. The plan for that day was 1/2 day visiting the lighthouse, then lunch, then the other half frolicking in the water. When we got there Brian had me read the plaque to him outside the lighthouse and it explained that the ORIGINAL lighthouse had fallen into the water. This was the 2nd lighthouse, but still very old. Brian at 3 was very bright, but I was also very involved in him and his needs. He got it in his little head he wanted to see a picture of the original one.

So, we "deviated" from the plan a bit and went to the local museum. Spent quite a while there, explaining his desire and researching. To no avail. Now, I had decisions to make..this kid is REALLY into this! But, I had PLANS! Man..the beach!!!! My plans...guess what I let win? It's about our kids and their education. It's not always easy. I had plans!!!! But I truly believe he had an interest laid on his heart and it was my duty to follow through. I did not squash his love of learning that day.

We then went to the local library and got the librarians help, but also to no avail. Finally we went to the historical society and met with some of their old timers, and signed up for their newsletter. The best we came to the original was an old brick that had been saved.

But, that one day sparked an interest in lighthouses that lasted for over 4 years! We ended up planning family vacations around lighthouses. We went to see Cape Hatteras while it was being moved. We watched the webcam of it being moved on a daily basis! ALL because I said "screw my plans" and let a 3 yr olds interests reign.

The end :) no , not really...the beginning! It's a change in our minds, in our ways..a BIG change from traditional school thinking!

Can Christians Unschool?
I fail to see why not! I have read articles that speak both pro and con, some con even citing scriptural references!

Here's my deal. Unschooling in my house is NOT UnParenting. See, this is where some differences may lie with "radical unschoolers" . Although I am pretty radical in my educational beliefs, they do not carry over to letting the children do whatever they want, whenever, with no consequences. THAT would be unbiblical!

I do not see anywhere in the Bible where it dictates that learning should happen in 45 minute increments ONLY .Monday-Friday. 8;30-3:30. Where one must test and match up with their peers throughout the nation, where only one curriculum is used, after being approved by administration, even if it doesn't work. I see NO biblical reason why we should strive to make our homes into miniature schools, and further, I see absolutely no social, economic or moral benefit to striving thusly!

What I do see as biblical is modeling correct behavior. Being diligent in our learning and training. But the word training alone is seen as so "schooly" when truly, we can train EASILY! Use their interests!! If you fall in love with a Japanese woman and really want to communicate with her, don't tell me you wouldnt be easily trained and INTERESTED in learning Japanese! The same can be said for my son when an interest is laid on his heart...the learning comes easily!

That brings us to...GOD LED INTERESTS!! I truly believe God gives us everything..what we do with it is another story! Too often God given interests are stifled in the rush to learn at an appropriate nationwide level. What about the child who watches Gorillas In The Mist and wants to be active in Gorilla preservation? This is about more than giving some extra time to an interest, this is about embracing things laid on our children's hearts, whether it is for 5 minutes or for 5 years. WE don't know God's plans, not for ourselves, and certainly not for our children!

Here's an interesting article...for more thought provoking ideas.. The "Discipleship" Methodology of Homeschooling

I hope the thought that lasts is...devotees of Christ will make their beliefs known to their children not just by scripture, but by life practices! This does not equate to needing to purchase a pre-packaged curriculum, but rather to leading a life with Christ in the center!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

About Me

I'm the product of 2 public school teachers who loved to instill in their children a love of learning. Growing up, I was forever playing with math manipulatives, workbooks, and reading. We had a great home on a rural lane, lots of trees, a stream, and friendly neighbors. It made for a lot of outdoor play with our imaginations.

While pregnant with my first son, I heard about homeschooling. After he was born I realized I was meeting his needs, not only developmentally, but he was learning! I enjoyed watching his brain spin and grasp the time he was 2 I knew we would homeschool!

Married to Chris for almost 9 years, together we have 2 sons, my son from a previous marriage, and Chris' 2 sons from a previous marriage. Yes, adding correctly that is a total of 5 boys! Their ages are 15, 14, 14, 7 & 2. My oldest, 14, has been homeschooled since birth, as have the 2 youngest. I was also able to homeschool 1 of my stepsons from 5th-7th grade, until he moved out of state. The other has Cerebral Palsy and has always been in public school.

While religious reasons were not the primary reason for choosing to homeschool, we do indeed try to walk with the Lord.

Between our 5 boys, 4 have some special need or another, and one would be termed "gifted" if in school. They run the gamut, but even in YOUR family, each child is different than the next. This does allow me to truly know that homeschooling evolves not only from year to year, but also from child to child.

I have been active in the homeschool community for many years and in many different ways:
*Hosted for AOL in the Homeschool Chatroom for 3 years
*Co-Authored "Christian Unschooling; Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ"
*Edited and Published an online ezine, Seedling (yahoogroups)
*Formed a local support group in the NW area of Las Vegas
*Mentoring leader for 2 other local support groups
*Founding Officer, past President and current Officer, of Nevada Homeschool Network
*continually lobbying for homeschool freedoms
*Clark County point of contact for new homeschoolers
*many tv and print interviews
*volunteer mentoring in the community
*speaking engagements on homeschooling
*blogging about Christian Unschooling

When I am not busy running kids to and from activities, helping newbies or playing with the kids, I can be found reading, scrapbooking, or surfing the web..for what else, but educational resources!!!!

If I could give you any advice on homeschooling it would be: Don't spend much until you see an actual item, and certainly not in your first year; RELAX; have attainable goals; RELAX; incorporate your children's interests; and RELAX! One need not re-create school at home, learning always happens.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008