So What Are You Like?

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Today I’ve decided to accept an open invitation from Sue Elvis to answer some questions for the Liebster Awards. I admit that I haven’t heard of this before, but I really enjoyed getting to know Sue a little more. So, here are the questions she posed followed by my answers:

1. What kind of place do you live in? We live in a row home in a medium-sized city. It’s a little cramped for 12 people, but it’s homey!

2. How would you describe yourself (appearance, character and anything else that’s interesting!)? I’m a short redhead who occasionally has the temper to go with that red hair. (I’m working on that!) I can be a bit of an introvert, which may sound odd coming from someone with 11 kids, but, there you have it! My husband is a bit introverted, as well, so it works out rather well.

3. Are you an introvert or extrovert or somewhere in between? Oops! I just answered that in #2!

4. What’s your favourite way to keep fit? I was a dancer for over 20 years, so while that is my favorite way to keep fit, it honestly hasn’t happened in years. My only exercise at this juncture comes from chasing kids!

5. What do you like to blog about? I love to blog about unschooling, homeschooling, and family life. My family is truly the most important thing to me here on this Earth.

6. What is your favourite blog post? (Don’t forget to include a link!) I think my favorite one would have to be So What If We’re Socially Awkward because it addresses the fact that homeschool critics may want to think twice before expecting our children to look to their peers as role models.

7. What do you like to do when you’re not blogging? When I actually have time, I love to read. I also love to go for nature walks with the kids, and those twice a year dates with my hubby are always something I look forward to!

8. Have you ever done anything you insisted you’d never do? Hmm…that’s tough. I guess maybe just the fact that I always used to say that I could never homeschool, yet here I am today.

9. What is the last new skill you learnt? Right now I’m learning German through Mango Languages. It’s also been very educational starting a blog because I was pretty much computer illiterate just a few months ago. It’s been really exciting to teach myself new things.

10. What are your talents? (We all have some. God made sure of that!) I love children (obviously). I’m very resourceful and am very capable of looking at the big picture. I’ve always been a bit of an encourager to others, too. I’m also very open to try new things if I know that I can always change back again if necessary.

11. What do you like most about being a mother? I love my kids’ smiles and their laughter. I love watching my older kids make silly faces at the baby. I love reading to them and watching movies with them (even anime)! I can honestly say that I’m living the life I always dreamed of with a husband I love and 11 awesome kids!

Okay, your turn! I would love to hear some things about you. Feel free to answer these questions in my comments or on your own blog. Make sure you leave a link!

1. How many children do you have?

2. What is your favorite comfort food?

3. What part of the world do you live in?

4. Where is the one place you most want to visit?

5. Do you homeschool, and if you do, what is your philosophy?

6. What is your favorite book or movie (or both)?

7. How would you describe yourself?

8. What is your favorite pasttime?

9. What’s the funniest thing your child has ever said?

10. What was your most embarrassing moment? (Now I’m getting personal, right?)

11. What is your biggest fear?

I can’t wait to hear from you! Don’t forget to leave a link to your blog post, and make sure you invite others to answer some Liebster questions! You can send them to a particular blogger or send an open invitation to all!

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Unlimited Gaming? Not These Unschoolers!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few weeks ago, I had expressed my doubts about unlimited screen time. While there seems to be much to be learned from this time, there are some drawbacks, as well. I decided to try unlimited gaming to see how it would pan out in our house. After several weeks of this experiment, I can attest to the fact that, while some kids may, indeed, be able to regulate themselves, that is not the case with some of my kids. These past several weeks have been very stressful for me, as I haven’t seen that self-regulation that so many people espouse to. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t always happen. All children are different.

I don’t know what I was expecting, really. My expectations may have been too high, but I expected something to come out of this. Even if that self-regulation didn’t happen, I would have been okay if this interest would have at least expanded to other things. For example, there for a while, Arianna was spending a lot of time watching makeup tutorials. I could have gotten concerned with that, but I was able to definitively see that interest grow from watching tutorials, to trying her own theatrical makeup, to making her own videos, to creating homemade makeup and makeup remover. You see? Her interest in this did not remain stagnant. It developed into something more.

Gaming can absolutely have value. It can inspire a desire to code or create original games. Maybe even a fictional story could be written set in the worlds that are explored. Possibly even a comic book could be created depicting the adventures that can happen. I suggested so many ways to expand this interest, but those ideas remained just that. Mom’s ideas.

Before gaming, there were so many interests running rampant through this house. Herpetology, cryptozoology, origami, drawing, and entomology were the most common. Since gaming, these flights of fancy have all but vanished. It is my deepest desire to bring life back into our home through exploration and creativity- not through blank stares in front of a computer screen.

Some people may disagree with this assessment, and that’s fine. I really do see how, in certain situations, having no limits may still be fruitful. It just isn’t here.

So, starting Monday, I’ve informed the kids that no gaming will be allowed before 6pm. I expected some protests and complaints, but do you know what I saw instead? Relief. Sometimes kids need these limits. They do. So what was the response I got when making this announcement? “Can we go to the library?” Yes. Of course we can.

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Learning in Freedom- Our Nature Study Wake-Up Call

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So many doors are opening now that spring is finally here. Yesterday was another glorious day, so we took full advantage of it and walked to a nearby creek.

Watching us walk anywhere must really be a sight for others. We’ve been practicing walking with a partner in a straight line, and it’s really funny watching people drive by craning their necks to see the long line of kids behind me. I know it sounds too schoolish to some, but it beats having them all over the sidewalk, never knowing what they’re going to do. I love to hear the kids talking to each other. Yesterday we passed a cement truck, and I could hear Caollin explaining why the cement mixer has to keep turning. Eavesdropping has its perks!

There is an elementary school, which is right next to the creek ,and passing it was a little depressing. Not because I want my kids to go to school, but because I would love for those kids to experience the freedom that we homeschoolers enjoy. As we strolled past the playground, there were a bunch of kids playing outside, and all I saw was a sea of black because our school district recently implemented a school uniform policy. Seeing all the darkness and sameness there was a fitting symbol for the assembly line learning that is happening in these schools. The school kids always like seeing us pass (we go there quite a bit when it’s warm), and they always wave to us and smile.

Dillon took his fishing pole with him, so as soon as we arrived, he set out to try to catch a fish. The kids all scattered as soon as we got there- that walking in a line is quite difficult for them! They’re all explorers at heart, and that’s just what they set out to do.

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We took a sample of the pond water there (there’s a pond, too) to do an algae experiment later. The water is still quite deep from all of the rain and melted snow, so I eventually tried to lead them over to an area not so close to the water. It lasted for a short time while they found worms, bugs, and tree nuts, but then that blasted water beckoned to them again.

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We decided to cross to the other side so they could roll down the big hill, when we began to hear a lot of voices. We turned around and saw the school children in their line walking past the creek all holding a paper (probably an assignment). I mentioned to my kids that the other kids must be there on a field trip, too. We stood there watching them, with interest, but what we saw made me really sad. Their field trip consisted of walking single file past the creek without so much as stopping to look at a duck. Then they left.

I turned and looked at my kids and expressed pity for those children. While my kids were there and free to explore, the school children only experienced a little tease. I don’t blame the teachers; it would be very hard for them to control that many children at one time, but, at the same time, it was such an illustration of what these children are missing out on.

As we turned back around and headed to the big hill, I glanced back at the sea of black returning to the schoolyard. Then I heard the laughter of my own children as they began to roll down the hill, and I smiled.

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