Category: Untraditional Education
Provision-y stuff and an Octopus
We are busy cleaning and packing plus doing Hanukkah (not to mention family Christmas stuff.) In the meantime God has been blessing us in a variety of ways, including the above marzipan recipe which makes it much cheaper and thus lets Rach sculpt to her hearts content.
- We managed to get rid of 6 garbage bags full of sheets, blankets, and books– which means less stuff to pack! YAH!
- The kids have been a great help with packing things up, especially since I keep getting minor injuries that are forcing me to stop and rest.
- We bought the kids 1 gift for each day of Hanukkah and it has been so peaceful and enjoyable. Instead of a pile of presents the kids are really focusing on their one gift and enjoying it, which has been a huge change of events. In the past a stuffed Mario or book would have been tossed aside when the bigger, cooler gifts come out but this year they are enjoying each to the fullest.
- The peace that Hanukkah has brought has especially blessed me as I normally go crazy during the holidays, preferring to hole up in a corner with a book and avoid all the chaos. This is especially good considering all the other stuff going on.
- The Lord is continuing to take care of us financially. We have been waiting, praying and trusting and He is making our money go much further than we could have imagined.
- I got a God-gift today (usually around the holidays and my birthday the Lord blesses me with something that is exactly what I wanted, something just perfect that blesses me in a huge way– I always call them God-gifts…because they are obviously a perfect special thing just from Him to me.) Today, Rach and I ran to the thrift shop to drop off the bags of stuff. While there we were checking for something she was looking for and while she was looking at something else she ran across a food processor in the wrong spot. We had just been talking about how little time this one has left (I have burned them out in less than a week and our current one is used and was missing the shredding/slicing blade.) The one she found was a perfect match to my current one (which was a thrifted gift from a friend) and it included a non-broken bowl and the blade I needed. This means I can use the current one till I burn it out and have a backup. Plus I now have two bowls and mixing blades! We are all so excited because I have been wanting to make sauerkraut and other ferments again and really needed that blade (due to my RA cutting and grating are pretty much out so without a food processor that works well I can’t make a lot of our foods.) Someday we will have the money to get me a good one again (I killed my Bosch after 9 years of daily use) but for now I have a backup that does what I need! So excited and blessed that God would provide this for me in such a way (and I think the kids are as excited as I am– we all love God-gifts and get excited about them together).
- The sign is up in front of our house to let people know it is for sale. Today someone stopped and asked about it (we are appointment only because we are all home all the time and I am not sure if we will have sheets to give out or not– we don’t right now which is what he was asking for.) I am just feeling really encouraged that someone is even interested at all.
- When the bank called today they suddenly said that we DON’T have a sheriff sale date. Not sure if it changed because the house is now for sale for real, if he just didn’t see it, or what but he was pretty sure we didn’t have a date for sheriff sale which is interesting because last week they said January 6. Either way we are encouraged again that something is happening and God is moving.
- After the thrift shop Rach and I ran into the grocery store nearby to pick up a few things we needed. On the way out they had a huge pile of excellent boxes (banana boxes and egg boxes which are super strong.) I had totally forgotten that when I had called they said Thursday was their shipment day and that they just put them on the ledge in front for people to take. So Rach and I filled the minivan up with boxes and we now have plenty (I think) for what we need.
Not House Beautiful
A discussion on the Christian Unschooling Facebook group got me thinking about my kitchen and how, as unschoolers, it gets and stays relatively clean. We still don’t do chores though we all pitch in once a week for Sabbath prep (we all take a room and clean up– not perfect just make it nice and put things away so we can have a Sabbath without concern for messes or things not put away.) There are no battles about it, the kids all choose what they want to do and help since they know it makes things nice for Sabbath and they love showing off their work “Mom, I did the living room! Come see how nice it looks!”
One of the keys for me personally is trying to keep clutter low (I go through and get rid of when I notice things accumulating. Sometimes a kid helps and sometimes no.) Another trick has been having enough storage and it organized in a way that it is simple to put things away. Part of that for me is NOT having cupboard doors. When I have doors I hide things behind them which means mess lurking where I don’t want to deal with it. My kids are the same way so we use the cupboards below the counter minimally other wise they turn into insta-traps.
I have this whole out of site out of mind thing that is kind of irritating– if I can’t see it regularly and store it in my brain that that is where it is I forget and can’t find it. And being the person that everyone looks to when they can’t find something I need to know where things are and remember where I last saw it. Instead of trying to make things beautiful we aim for convenient and neat looking. When I make changes I discuss them with the family (you wouldn’t believe the grief I got for MONTHS for changing the silverware drawer without discussion).
We don’t have a lot of spare change for organizing things so I use things I find on clearance (like the baskets in the other photos), at the thrift shop, or things that are free like the clementine boxes that are my spice racks.
I also use a lot of hooks and jars (I don’t store in plastic). I keep things I use regularly out where I see them so I can easily access them because then I am more likely to use them (for instance baking and cooking happen more often when I can see my favorite pans and bowls without having to search the trap which is the pan cupboard down below.) Also keeping things near where they are regularly used makes it easier for everyone. Utensils for cooking and knives are readily available near the stove. There are plastic cutting boards everywhere that people tend to cut (which eliminates cutting marks on my counter since they will automatically cut there whether there is cutting board or not.)
The teas we drink regularly as well as the coffee are by our water heating tool (aka microwave). We use fancy canning jars as drinking glasses since they are cheap, easy to hold, and have lids for quick storage when someone realizes they don’t want what they poured. Also cool is the ridges at the top are perfect for a colored pigtail holder to keep track of who’s cup is who’s.)
I keep my dish washing stuff close at hand since then I and the kids) am more likely to remember to do dishes and use the dish drainer and brushes (the brushes are in the pitcher on the window sill.)
Another view of our dish and tea cupboard. We have a shelf on the counter as it is easier for the kids to put dishes away if they can reach. Our dishes are all mismatched sets and most of them are ones Rachel bought me for my birthday or ones given to us by a friend. I have a thing for square plates and rice bowls so we have an eclectic mix of those. Also we each have favorite types of coffee/tea cups so those all hang even though we don’t need so many (no one is willing to give up their favorites.: )) The jar set on the second shelf was made by my grandfather and is kind of tricky since some of the lids don’t fit perfectly and fall off at random– this would be why they are sitting straight up instead of at an angle. Nothing like nearly being clonked on the head with a large wooden and porcelain lid.
The front pantry is an old metal medicine cupboard that was my grandparents. The basket on top is full of our daily supplements, the little cups to the right are tomorrows vitamins for the family, the red overnight suitcase is our medicine cabinet of various herbal remedies and the brown basket below is full of herbal cough drops for the cold that has been circulating our family. This cabinet has whatever is in use daily– nuts, dried fruit, homemade grain free granola, and chocolate.
Our homemade back pantry. Growing up my grandparents and my parents both had an awesome walk in pantry and I have been wanting one for forever. I finally took the metal shelves from the girls room and made a red-neck version so I have a place to store all our teas,orders from Amazon, my milk run cooler, empty jars, kombucha, and other ferments.
The baskets on top of the fridge have Shamus’ pretzels and other foods that are just his so the kids are tempted to eat his stuff (still on the GAPS diet and they requested that things like that be out of site. The two fridges hold our beef, raw milk, and ferments. The one on the left is the regular fridge where left overs etc go, the one of the right is overflow and storage.
And if you are wondering…yes, I cleaned up and did the dishes before taking photos though no deep cleaning. Sorry, you, dear reader, don’t warrant a deep cleaning. I needed to clean anyway since tomorrow is Sabbath Prep so now I have one less thing to do.
Things are crazy busy around here but I wanted to hop on and point out (for those who don’t already read Shamus’ site– though I know most of you do) that Shamus has been writing an autobiography of sorts on his blog. A lot of it explains why we specifically unschool and how his particular view of the US education system formed through his own experiences as well as how we met (today’s post was about our first date.) You can find it here.
That is all.
Where We Are: September 2011
This month (and the end of August) has seen as much busy-ness as our summer though of a new variety. We are prayerfully considering what direction we should be heading financially (have money to live on for the moment and had hoped to save up and live on it longer by bringing in more income but that all but stopped when the check finally came. Good thing God knows what He is doing (and He obviously has us trusting Him completely in this) because we have no idea. Well, we have some slight direction, and the Lord is kind of herding us in a certain direction that we are getting more and more comfortable with but the logistics of it all are still kind of out there and we don’t feel free to share yet. Still no money for the house payment and we are just waiting for the bank to kick us out– packing things up that we don’t need so we can simplify significantly is what we are focused on at the moment. Due to our awkward financial circumstances (no steady income, no savings, everything pretty unstable) they aren’t willing to work with us (not that I blame them.) So we will see what is around the next bend.
In the meantime, still doing GAPS– in fact we are being more rigorous with it while we are here so we can kick some more food allergies (which will simplify things down the road.)
We are still unschooling (and yes, the kids are still learning way more than they ever did when workbooks were a way of life for us).
We are focusing on doing the next thing, whatever that is, as the Lord guides us. Right now that means I will be painting, purging excess stuff (and God willing having a yard sale, taking my grandmother shopping several times a week, helping Shamus with his projects, and more time to spend with the kids; chatting with them, being with them, loving them where they are. Shamus is currently working on his autoblography which when done, God willing, will become an eBook memoir.
If you would be praying for wisdom and direction, especially regarding our finances and where the Lord wants us but also regarding spiritual things He is showing us recently, we would heartily appreciate it.
The Games are In!
Remember a while back I was illustrating a game? Well the game has been printed, shipped, and is now FOR SALE!!!! Yeah, I am a tad bit excited! you can go buy a copy for yourself (and one for your friends and family and birthdays and holidays and….) over at Whimsy Games.
And in case you are wondering, yes, we have played it and yes, it is not only fun but takes a bit of brain work, decision making and some math.
We have been, for several months, gratefully living off the money we got back from the government (via paying our taxes) for which we have been very, very grateful. The problem is we knew it wouldn’t last. We didn’t go crazy and buy all sorts of things– except for stocking up on the things we had been out of for some time, getting a few things to replace broken other things (though not replacing all the broken appliances– well attempting to, but when the replacements also broke we just waited). So we are at that place. The place where we are back relying on Jehovah Jireh daily. The oldest isn’t too thrilled as she doesn’t like being uncomfortable at all but here we are. SO I thought I should share what all He has been doing (though I have been sharing daily on Facebook and on the CU group.)
When we realized how low we were getting we did the same thing we always do– avoided paying the bills. We are awful that way. Then we went to pay the bills and realized, wow, we really are low– too low to buy groceries. Okay, now what God? (I hate that we do that, but we both do, especially as it almost always happens when Shamus is sleeping during the day and we aren’t seeing each other except when one of us is falling asleep.
- Right around that time I got a spur of the moment, last minute, please help us get this done in time book cover job (thanks Grace!) which paid for a bill that needed paid NOW. The book is here: http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Keven-Newsome/dp/tags-on-product/0987653105, the cover was nearly done, just needed to place some text and clean it up for print. Holly Heisey did the cover and it is lovely.
- I helped a friend transfer her blog for fun and she sent us gift cards for a local restaurant– which is awesome and will provide a much needed date with Mr. Hubbypants (if our sleep EVER lines up again!)
- The first thing that happened, immediately following paying bills is I started really analyzing the cost of GAPS foods and deciding what was most important. We then realized that trips to Broadrun farms were VERY important as raw milk, meat, and eggs are the cheapest nutrition for us. So, knowing we didn’t have the money we prayed that God would provide. And around the time that we HAD to leave I got money via paypal through the same friend who sent us the gift cards! Enough for everything we needed at the farm! YAH! (And thanks to my grandma I had enough gas to go!)
- If you follow my husband at all you will know that he was finishing up his book, Libreoffice hiccuped and LOST 3 days of work– which was HUGE and he was devastated. Then a reader sent him a free gift of Word (the “good version–can’t remember which year). He was grateful but felt it wasn’t time to get back into it– which is fine because he works in his head like I do, THEN put sit on paper.
- Because of that he suddenly got back into programming and started working on a game engine again– and is going at warp speed doing what he calls the best programming he has ever done. Which is awesome and I am excited to see where God takes that.
- I have multiple jobs right now, all of which will help pay the bills in the coming month (some things due soon so that is awesome.)
- Right after I had a huge panic attack about where the money would come from, God started putting everything into place. A friend sent us not only enough to renew our Science Center Membership (which he says we should do) but also added enough to pay some bills and keep us in food until these jobs pay. Praise the Lord–some stress relieved.
- Another friend was doing a rummage sale at her church and told me to let her know what appliances we had that had died so she could watch for them. Then she offered to pick them up at the pre-sale (just for helpers) so I would get them. THEN when I tried to pay her she said no! So now we have all new small appliances to replace all our broken ones!
Intensive Care for the Christian Unschooler– this is a weekly meme (you post the questions to your blog each Wednesday that you are able, using one of the buttons here to link over to the CU blog, add your site to the linky at the bottom there.)
“This week we want to…” prepare for a yard sale and figure out ways to get enough money to go visit friends that are moving soon and get enough together to go to the science center before our membership is over.
“The kids are…” enjoying Issac’s new scooter, struggling with the fact that we are tight with money again and can’t do all that they want to do. Issac is adoring the Green Electricity Snap Circuit Kit he bought with his Christmas money (he saved it till now).
“I am learning….” more like relearning. I am having to place everything in God’s hands, again. WHEN am I going to learn?
“I am struggling with…” trusting that God will provide. There are things that really need to be done this month (I mean yeah, they don’t have to but this is our last month our our science center membership and we would like to go at least one more time, we have two different friends moving in the next month (1 3 hrs away, the other 5 hrs away) both of which my oldest really wants to visit before they move because it is likely once they move we will never see them. And honestly I have no idea where the money will come from to do any of that since we are that place– the car needs inspected this month, and we are coming up empty–we are back to waiting for provision for the basics let alone for road trips. He has provided thus far and I am trusting that He will continue but…I am nervous and I really shouldn’t be. I KNOW He is Jehovah Jireh. I KNOW He has provided in the past. I just wish I could get the rest of me to remember and accept instead of worrying. Yes, I am struggling with panic– we are in the month the house foreclosure can take place and it is scary sice we have no backup plan and what we thought God was doing hasn’t happened (and suddenlyShamus switched gears from the book to programming and we were hoping that would get finished soon.) So…trusting Jehovah Jireh.
Apparently my lack of sleep these last few nights is also getting to me even though I “feel” fine– not tired or anything. Just irritable and anxious. I think Mandy might be onto something there. I think a lot of that is a shift in what I am eating–still eating GAPS but out of some key components and so haven’t been eating according to my cravings, which means I often just can’t be bothered to eat (eating plenty, just meh.).
“This week is the first time….” hmmmm, trying to think of first here. I guess it is the first time I have had a Facebook Bible discussion group– which is amazing and awesome and relaxed and beautiful and EXACTLY the type of Bible discussion group I have always wanted. No schedule, no real plan, just lets study what God has to say about this word and everyone posts as they feel led. Beautiful.
I am grateful for… (Yes, I added this one, will probably add it to the whole list on the group blog.) God’s provision. Yesterday we needed milk from the farm (and eggs and meat and cheese ) and since they are only open Tuesday and Thursday evenings (well and Sat but we don’t do Saturday stuff) I needed to go if I was going. I had been praying all day because we didn’t have the money to go and get what we needed and really were low on groceries. And then a friend gifted us with enough to go! So we went and it was such a blessed time. Rach and I stopped and visited my step-brother to give him his birthday gift which we have been carrying around for over a month. We were able to spread the cash out to cover plenty of milk and meat plus lots of eggs and cheese and bananas (key on the GAPS diet). We were able to check the gift cards that a friend sent us for Chili’s (we have had gift cards sent in the mail before that something the postal service did demagnetized them and they didn’t work so always check them before purchasing anything) and the gift cards are good so hubby and I get a date night!!! Anyway, it was an evening of one blessing after another and it was amazing and awesome and God is so good! And then we had enough in our gift fund to give to another friend in need which was also a blessing– I love being able to help others even if it isn’t much. God has blessed us in such amazing ways that I want to pass on those blessings!
Oh, and both girls wrote essays for the Gaming Angels girls Computer Camp contest and I am proud of both of them– they did a beautiful job and each essay is so unique and really shows their personality and thought processes.
I just walked in and saw my son watching Beakman’s World. Instead of getting upset that he was “just sitting there”, I had a revelation.
He was watching a movie that he wanted to watch and therefore gleaning as much as he could from it. (Unlike when someone makes you watch something and part of your brain is thinking about all the stuff it would rather be doing.) So here he was, learning, just like he usually is, whether he is playing a video game, watching a movie, playing with Legos, whatever. So essentially what he was doing was educational.
In the past I, like a lot of moms, would have gotten upset because I want to make him be useful. I’m trying to prepare the house for Sabbath, I’m hurting, and I need help.
Here is the thing. People pack their children off to school, every school day, for 7 hours (and if they have a long bus ride like I did, 8 or 9 hours.) There they sit and do many educational things all day that do not engage them. For the most part, they don’t really care about these things and ask why they have to learn them. In between those 20 minute educational lectures/lessons (I am generalizing here– when I was teaching some lessons were as short as 10 minutes, others were up to an hour long) they stand in line, get out books and put them away, get a drink, eat lunch, take electives where they have to take out and put away, wait for their classmates to finish their work, do extra busy work that is there for classroom management not for actual education, spend a few minutes talking to friends while waiting in line or during recess, get shushed, corrected, and so on. They take tests to prove that they remember what the teacher told them, wait for others to finish their tests, loose pencils/books/etc, spend time finding all of those lost items, and all sorts of other activities that are not beneficial to the adults at home and may or may not be educational. The wasted time in a school room is an issue teachers know well and which we are taught in our classroom management classes.
Start the year with review of last year. Then learn something new. Then review that thing. Then take time to study that thing. (I hope you haven’t mastered the subject, because there’s nothing else to do in the classroom right now.) Then finally take a test about the thing. Then forget about the thing and move on to a new thing. Even on rare days when new information is imparted, it’s usually teaching for the test, not teach the subject for the purposes of knowledge and understanding. We were told to expect about 20-30 minutes of actual new content being taught and the rest of the day being remedial and managing the class. Half an hour of learning. Out of eight.
Now a classically homeschooled kid has a lot more time at home (when they aren’t running to outside things like sports and dance classes– lots of time in the car for those). The parents spend much of their home time planning, organizing, teaching, and keeping the child on task (and anyone who has done classical homeschool can tell you that that takes a TON of energy, though of course it depends on the kid.) So let’s say the child spends 4 hours doing book work. (Some do much more, some do much less.) They may or may not be interested in what they are being taught and some are learning a lot more than others. For those who aren’t learning then there is repetition and practice and the parent trying to find new ways to teach the lesson. During that time the child is being taught by the parent, which means the parent is pulled away from the other things the parent could be doing. On a good day everything goes smoothly and everyone finishes their work with no tears. On a bad day…well. When we were more classical most days were bad days. The rest of the day is often taken with chores and outside activities though they certainly get more downtime to explore their own interests.
The thing is, in both of those situations the child is only expected to be doing educational activities for much of the day (including all those extracurricular activities) and that child may or may not be getting anything out of ANY of those educational opportunities. Yet here I am with a child who is actively learning regardless of what he is doing because he is full engaged in what he is doing. He’s doing it because he IS interested and wants to learn more about it, and I am going to complain because he is JUST watching TV? Meanwhile, if he were sitting in a class he’d likely be doing a time-sink worksheet that exists only to slow down the faster kids and keep them busy while the slow kids catch up. Is that really better than television?
How messed up my thinking has been. I had forgotten the point was to see him learning, to look for the learning going on instead of keeping my own personal servant. I should point out here that he had already spent quite a bit of time helping me today and he often does helpful things out of love instead of being coerced, just like I do things to serve him, out of love. It is so easy to forget all the helpful things that he does do when I notice him sitting there “doing nothing” while I am busy.
Intensive Care for the Christian Unschooler– this is a weekly meme (you post the questions to your blog each Wednesday that you are able, using one of the buttons here to link back to the CU blog, and hop over here and add your site to the linky at the bottom.)
“This week we want to…”…hmm, will have to ask the kids. We did what they really wanted (went to Moraine State Park, where they made friends with a family that is eerily similar to our own in all sorts of awesome ways. Also took Rach to the outlets and to Moraine yesterday– which she announced was the best day ever, though I guess today almost trumped it.
“The kids are…” happy and sunburnt. VERY sunburnt (though I am the worst)– apparently staying 3 hours past when we were going to leave might not have been such a great idea. 🙂 But it was worth it, see above.
“I am learning….” that I forgot how much sunburn hurts? And that maybe God is filling in my lack of leadership ability, maybe. I don’t WANNA lead. That I don’t have nearly enough time to write all the stuff I want to write about (SO much that needs written down), take care of the house, visit my grandma, AND do all the cool stuff I want to do with the kids. So, I really need to be praying for wisdom at any given moment so I am doing all things in His time. And I am learning that I forgot to take pictures today. I think I took like, 3. Sigh. And once again I am learning that YES God is taking care of us. I had to stop and get groceries on the way home and was really upset at how much they cost because we have bills to pay and car inspection. Got home and found almost that exact amount had been donated to us via Shamus’ blog. So whoever you are, THANK YOU!
“I am struggling with…” sunburn? Ow?
“This week is the first time….” I have taken the kids to Moraine alone. Don’t know why I never have, but I just didn’t. Didn’t occur to me how close it was.