Thursday, October 29, 2009

what is real life?

you know what's funny? people talk about how children "need" to go to school to learn how to live in "the real world" but nothing about the way your average school is operated is anything like my real life. (one i am told i am lucky to have and which, indeed, i am Very Thankful for. but this is available to many people with the ability to choose it, but that's another blog post.)

what is this alleged "Real Life"?

real life is fully integrated, rather than divided into subjects (baking cookies is not about math and reading comprehension, it's about making cookies.). real life happens all the time (24hrs a day) and people (whether they know it or not) have a choice about what they do when they do it. in real life everybody doesn't know all the same things just because they are the same age. in real life everybody doesn't need to know everything and be "well rounded". no one thinks accountants should know about biology or french. no one expects nurses to spout off calculus facts, solve quadratic equations or random pieces of information about history at any given time.

in real life people learn the things they need to learn when and HOW they need to learn them. in real life, even though someone may know more about something than me, it doesn't make it okay for them to treat me like with contempt and/or disrespect. in real life, i am responsible for myself. i make decisions and live with the results and learn (and grow!) from my mistakes. in the real world i am not a bad person because i don't know something and people don't test me on what i know to decide what to think of me (and if they do, those aren't the kind of people i would choose to be around!)

whatever this 'real world' is that school is supposed to prepare people for, it's not what i want for my children. i don't want them to learn that one person has all the answers, that they are simpletons incapable of discovering things for themselves, that they are less than people who know more about something than they do, that they have no valid opinion, that when a bell rings it's time to go to work or time to stop. that a person's worth lies entirely in their performance. that people don't get to do the things they are passionate about because other people don't approve.

but let me shift that too the positive point of view:

i want my children to trust themselves. i want my children to understand how they learn best and what works best for *them* and to know how to teach themselves whatever they want to learn. i want them to find their passions and pursue them. for them to connect with living beings as equal citizens of the planet, like them. for them to have a broad worldview. for them to feel free from the confines of harmful social constructs (socio-economic delineations, popularity contests, fitting in because it's easier).

maybe it sounds like i'm saying that all children who go to school will learn all these things. it's not what i am saying. people (children in this case) who feel gotten and supported and encouraged to find their own path at in their home environment can navigate the traditional school system taking what they need and leaving what they don't. lots and lots of wonderful, world changing people have come from school. LOTS!

and lots and lots of wonderful, world-changing people have come from un- or de-schooled backgrounds too.

just think about what percentage of what you "learned" in school you use today; right now. Parallelograms? Literature? Chemistry? of the parts that you do use, what could you have learned without being coerced anyway?

school isn't the be all, end all. school and academics aren't the recipe for success. academics can and do change the world, to be sure. but even Hitler was educated. as were the doctors and nurses that created and maintaned those heinous gas chambers.

everything good happens within the framework of Love. for me, that is the real world. real life. Love is.

Love is. only Love only Love

only Love.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Rhythm is Gonna Get Ya... um, Me

Looks like we are finding a sort of inhale-exhale rhythm to our life as unschoolers. Of course, now that I've said that everything will change immediately.

Very early on my path toward where I am now, I read a Waldorf Book that talked a lot about life having a natural rhythm. This had a profound impact on me and I fully embraced that concept. Not to get into it but the author spoke about how before technology the rhythms of our lives were more closely aligned with the earth's. Even the way and time we did laundry, prepared meals etc.

Of course, a domestic goddess I Am Not. (I am in the thick of making peace with that.) So though the idea of an ebb and flow of life sat well with me, and the ideology of our lives being more integrated with nature's clock seemed very logical to me, I found that I tried and failed at creating (read: forcing) the kind of rhythms the author talked about in the book in my own day to day experience.

Once I let it go, however, I was able to see that my life did in fact have it's own predictable patterns, routines, ways of being. Maybe I didn't do laundry every Tuesday and bake pies every Thursday, but I did go to mommy group every Monday, hang out with friends every Friday, and we went to supermarket on Saturdays. Things like that. Then I went back to teaching part time when Ryan was one and it wasn't long before I realized that that was just Not going to work for me to leave my babies in other hands when they were still so young. So they soon came with! And for three years, they came with me to play-group thrice a week. And we had yet another - albeit externally driven - rhythm to our lives.

This September, when we jumped back into this way of life - this one in which we were untethered to the calendar or clock (huzzah!!) - I had a feeling we would find ourselves in our own natural in/out, go/stop, high-energy/low-energy ebb and flow in our hours, days, weeks. Even though we weren't actively looking for it, I knew we'd find it. And find it we did! Eureka!!

Over the last month to six weeks, we have expanded into alternating inhale-, exhale- weeks. That is to say a week full - i mean chockoblock - of activity; putting miles and miles on the car going from one adventure to the other, followed by a week of quiet, mostly in or close-to-home activities. I can't tell yet if I'm driving that or the kids or all three of us. But I do find that most Monday mornings after busy week, busy weekend, we are all three moving slowly and feeling low-key. And that soft, quiet atmosphere kind of eases into the days (and nights) that follow; settling over our bodies and even the furniture like a soft blanket and then - poof! - like magic, the next week we all get charged up and ready to go again. Suddenly the air is crackling, lots of things are calling to us, and we trying to find wiggle room to fit more things in.

Saying these things and re-reading them makes me smile. It fills me with gratitude and joy; knowing this is our life.

And yes, it may change. If it does, it doesn't matter... as long as we are happy. Here are some of the pix from our fun and beautiful sights from today.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Shopping as Economics 101

Finally took the people today to spend their birthday loot from their great grandma: $25 a piece. Standard, universal birthday gift from this well loved Granny. :)

We first popped into a small mom-and-pop type store selling "Educational materials and toys". Though I typically resist (subtext : detest) anything labeled as "smart" or "educational", i had gone in earlier this week with Lauryn and we found ourselves exclaiming at many, many cool things and we decided together to go back for the Big Birthday Shop. So we started our morning there, spending much of our time oohing and aahing; Lauryn marketing all the things she might like to have access to but not enough to spend her money to actually buy it, to Ryan. I fended her off on his behalf and he managed to find a super cool dinosaur puzzle book. Each page had a different category and the photo was it's own puzzle. He poured and poured over the book so much so that I encouraged him to spend his money on that. He was keen and we bought it. Lauryn, however, didn't want anything badly enough to part with her cash, so we left for another store.

The second store, fancy and 'rich-up' as it was, was less 'mom-and-pop-y' and more 'wealthy-business-owner-y' but still small and not too overwhelming. She picked up toy after toy after toy and either couldn't afford it or was unwilling to spend her money on it. I could see her weighing the cost/value ratio with the things that fit within her budget. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Ryan was LOUDLY playing with a great many stretchy-dragon, miniature car, molded dinosaur, chinese dragon puppet and anything else that was within reach and could possibly be imagined to shoot lasers and attack other things and people. (chwk! chwk! "I CHOOSE... PURPLE DRAGON! and GREEN DRAGON!!... (loud unspellable grating noises here)" Then the toys he chose would merge (he would actually kinda squeeze them together) and become a single, more powerful unit. We would battle. And I would lose. Every time. And yes, I totally played with their toys with him 'cause I knew that we were not "using up" any of the toys' inherent fun or harming the toys in any way.

And still Lauryn roamed.

She finally came to the conclusion that no, this store wasn't the right place; didn't have the right thing either. I asked if she wanted to go to the other conglomerate Toy Store. She agreed but was quick to point out that they also had "supplies for grown-ups" too.

I won't bore you and tell you how LONG we spent in the stuffed toy aisle and then even 10 million times longer in the Barbie sections. But it was LONG. Verrrrry long. I mean LONG-ONG-ONG-ONG-ONG. A revolving dialogue of Can I afford this? No. This? No. This? No. Aw MANNNN! This? Okay- anything more than twenty five is too much because that's what you have. Okay.

...So, can I afford this?

Not too long there after she kinda figured it the pricing thing out. How much is this? $40. Oh, too much. Is this one 38? Yes. Oh, too much. She was soon reading off all the prices and declaring whether they were too much or if she had enough. And after many long hours I finally heard it: Mom, this (fancy Barbie) is only 10 dollars!!! (me) NO WAY!! Nothing's that cheap in this store!

Off to the scanner we trooped and she was right! Then she soon found a PONY - a DISNEY PRINCESS PONY for TWELVE DOLLARS. I was like No Way that's right. And it was!!! So she got TWO things for UNDER $25 in The Conglomerate!

She was pretty proud of her buy! She loved giving the money to the cashier herself and toting her own big shopping bag (no, sorry not the reusable kind. I forgot it!) to the car. It was just after 2 by then and I asked what else they wanted to do for the day. We just wanna go home and play with our new stuff, they said. And I was happy to comply.

She was ecstatic when we got home. And played all afternoon with them. Of course, the pony was in the tub within an hour of being freed from it's plastic packaging.

As I said: Economics 101.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Inadvertent Community Service

without really planning it, we spent our day serving our community. so great how it worked out, really.

we have two friends who are in the hospital and i suggested we make cards for them today and go for a visit. lauryn jumped on it immediately and we used some of her spin art (seen here) to create them.

we picked up some valuable lessons along the way on wastage (a la "MOMMMMMM! You FINISHED the glue!!" | "Actually, Lauryn, you used most of it in your last project, remember?" | "oh. yah. right.") and conserving for later. and we had fun writing our greetings in each card. i got to do some crafty creating too. after a good brekky of real buttermilk pancakes, we got dressed and headed out for the hospital, Lauryn and i. ryan opted to stay behind.

we visited our friend who had an intestinal 'situation', then our dear sweet little friend living with leukemia. then we came home and had some more fun baking chocolate chocolate chip cookies too deliver to our neighbour who just had a baby on Ryan's birthday, in fact!

up the street we strolled, ryan in his skivvies, lauryn barefooted, hot footed on the asphalt, to deliver our yummy little treats.
unfortunately mommy and baby were away but it was off to the next thing: serving ourselves :) at a playdate with Lisa and Dyllan at KFC's play thing. it's indoors with A/C and they LOVE it! after that, we helped out the family of our hospitalized friend by picking the kids up and taking them for a cool drink then off to their grandmother.

we hung out a soccer with Lisa and Dyllan for another little while, then popped over for a visit at the kids we had taken to their grandparents earlier which included a splash in the pool and playing with 'foreign' toys.

finally we headed home and turned around for a walk up the street to deliver the baked goods where we visited and played (again!); met many new people and even getting to see a cool fish tank!

serving others, serving ourselves.

i want to do this more often. (serving others, i mean.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

you get a line i'll get a pole, baby

for a great many reasons, i will be doing my very best to chronicle our wonderful adventures in our journey of natural learning. i'm a little late to start as i have missed our days at the zoo and at at atlantis. but, today is as good a day as any!

yesterday, having spent a lovely afternoon with our friends at the pool, the kids and i were rollin on home toward daddy and a quiet evening at home. i can't remember what triggered it but they came up with the idea that they wanted to go fishing. can we go fishing tomorrow, mom? i was more than delighted to say "of course!". i mean, how many people get to do that? just say yes to spontaneous adventure?

so after much dilly and dallying on my part and even more 'mom can we go fishing yet?' on their part this morning, we finally got going. it was off to A.I.D. to find a fishing rod (we had to negotiate around people wanting to pick their own rods in their favorite color) but we managed to conclude it was wiser to just get one for now incase we don't LOVE fishing.

after some less than helpful help and no rods at A.I.D. (more like unaid) we went to the kelly's empire and found ourselves a neat little kit complete with rod, lures, hooks and line for under $40. sold! off we went...

to potter's cay dock to locate some discarded conch parts ("slop") and advice about where the best place was to shop. i growled at myself when i realized that i had forgotten my bag with the camera in it (&*%^#!!!) as i watched them oooh and aaaah over the live conch layed out on the tables. both of them touching the little horns that poke out. we got our conch slop, popped by the house for our trusty swim bag and headed out to our chosen destination.

what great fun we had trying to figure it all out! between trying to put the sinker on the line, a malfunctioning reel on the rod and tangled line everywhere - we all learned to exercise patience, endure heat and how not to use a fishing rod. we eventually just used short lines and fed the fish. which was great fun for all three of us to see all the pretty little fish that swim so close to the shore (between 6 to 30 feet out).

then we we'd had enough fun playing with our fishy friends, the kids decided they wanted to play in the sand. lucky for me i have child-related ESP and packed our swim bag so they very merrily changed on the spot and hopped down to the water. we made more friends with many little crabs, some kirbs (sp?), limpets and even a few dragonflies.

Our most interesting find of the day. We still don't know what this is. It's squishy and bouncy and seems to have something moving about (swimming?) inside. It has been placed by Lauryn into home made 'sea' (salty) water.

This little white crab is one of our friends, the biggest by far of the crabs we saw which was still only just about as big as the palm of my (hand at the most). We oooohed and aaahed at it's beauty.

You can see these little explorers searching for new and interesting finds just off the shore. The last photo is of our very happy "classroom" of the day, the best kind which is no 'room' at all.

So all in all, we had ourselves a fish of a time today. We'll definitely go fishing again very soon.

I wonder what we'll be doing together on Wednesday?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

BREAKING NEWS!: Mother abuses children in local bank!

This just in: In our culture where we have all accepted that it is absolutely unacceptable to allow children to be childlike one mother dares display blatant disregard for this unspoken foundational law of our society.

This reckless mother was seen with her two very unfortunate children accompanying her to do business in the bank! Not only did she have the audacity to take them with her to this inappropriate venue, she had her children with her at a time when adults have secured relief from their presence by having them temporarily incarcerated in the appropriate buildings.

This story only gets worse. Having displayed an exceptional inability to control every single action and word by her children like all good parents do, this mother sunk to an all time low when she allowed her children to play with her and each other while she stood in line. (The horror.) Her son showed a predisposition for violent tendencies as he pretended his flip-flops were laser shooters and pantomimed destroying things and persons in his immediate vicinity. Before long the real abuse became evident when this barbaric "play" became downright indecent.

Reports are that the boy was witnessed to have yelled very loudly that he had shot his mother "in the p*nis"! It gets even worse. The mother and daughter reportedly told the boy that the mother did not have a "p*nis"; to which the boy responded (the squeamish may want to loook away) - "then I got you in your 'gina!!" Again, very loudly so that everyone was forced to be exposed to these dirty words being spoken by a child in public!

Why this mother chooses to allow her young children to call their reproductive body parts by their "correct" names instead of completely irrelevant, made-up names that simplify the process of causing children to be ashamed of their bodies and s*xuality at as early an age as possible remains a complete mystery to this journalist.

The signs of our society's decay are clearly evidenced in incidents like these. We cannot begin to imagine what kind of horrors we are headed for if parents begin to allow their children to think for themselves and to be fully engaged in their decidedly foolish 'childlike wonder'.

Dark days lay ahead when children are raised in the kinds of environments that permit them to believe that they are loved no matter what or when adults are give up their god-given right to hurt them to get them to do what they want. If children are allowed to choose their own paths or to freely reject mandatory incarceration in which they are forced to learn what we deem fit, for hours, days, weeks, months, years in favor of "thinking for themselves" - well, we cannot begin to imagine the ramifications of such careless, reckless endangerment of our youth.

We must fight this growing trend and tighten our grip of control right now.

As always, let your fear be your guide.

Friday, October 02, 2009

in decision ten oh nine

i vacillate therefore i am... not sure.

you know how your shadow is your light? no? me either. okay, you know how your strength is your weakness and vice versa? yes, of course you do. every body knows that. right?

so first i have to tell you what my strength is and then you can guess the weakness. (first one to guess wins a prize!) in no particular order here are the things that bring joy to my life (and possibly the lives of others):

spontaneity, playfulness, living through my heart (not my mind), always able to make a joke.

and the weaknesses in these characteristics:

piss poor planning, difficulty being serious, significant delay in intellectual processing time, difficulty being serious.

hmm.. it didn't work. i was supposed to come to a formulaic conclusion about how disorganized i am and how incapable i am of making ANY decisions. crap. now what? how am i supposed to prove that i have these flaws if i don't show my work? sigh well you just have to take my word for it. OR if you know me, you already know this to be true.

so anyway. the point of this ramble is that i seem to vacillate for a living. (note to self: do google search for jobs that require poor decision making skills.) (need to point out that this is in no way shape or form self deprecation; just an unattached observation of myself.)

this is what my life looks like: should i do this?... or THAT?.. or both??? i'll do this. no. that. no. both. wait no. umm... errrrr... okay i'll just try this oh wait no THAT. crap i don't like THAT. so now what? okay i'll quit THAT and try this again (again? i don't think i actually tried in the first place). but what if i do both??? that might work. then THAT won't seem so bad and i'll get to do this and it'll all work out great. ... oh now wait a minute doing this and THAT is proving to be too much for me. NOW what????

i shit you not people. i have that exact conversation with myself every three to five minutes. okay maybe i'm exaggerating. 10 to 15.

this is such an enormous burden! i wish i could decide not to carry it anymore! for god's sakes. so now i find myself in two places of making decisions that affect other humans lives. wow, God: classic. my life at home - which i am rockin' and lovin' btw - *and* my life as a Coordinator. you saw correctly. i said co-ordinator. as in one who coordinates things. (again, God: classic.)

i am definitely NOT feeling the rockin' bits there. could that have anything to do with a profound, earth shattering insecurity? naaaaaaaaaah!

the fact that whenever i see Responsibility moving in any general direction toward the vicinity i am occupying at the moment causes me to put on my pay-less sneakers and RUN like the gingerbread man in the opposite direction could have a little something to do with it. what? terrified of responsibility? me? absolutely! (apparently God is also very good at making jokes all the time).

what to do what to do? i just can't decide.