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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Truth About Screen Time

This is a touchy subject with many.  Screen time.  Limit it? Unlimited? What do the doctor's say this week? What did they say last week?  What will they say next week?  Is it good? Is it bad?  Oh man. THE SCREEN.  How can two words illicit such fear in the hearts of so many parents?

It's an inanimate object people.  Do not fear it.

When Honey Bunny was young, I limited her screen time.  She watched Teletubbies (ugh!) and PBS. She was only allowed to watch it for 30 minutes a day.  I was 26 and wanted only the best for my child.  Then, when she was 2 I left her father.  I was a full-time single mom.

I used to get pissed off that the "single mom's" who had every Wednesday off, every other weekend off and every other holiday off.  To me, that wasn't a single mom. That was a mom who had time off. I never got time off. It was me and only me. Yes, I had parents near by, but at 2am when the nightmares hit or she had leg cramps or got sick, there was no one else to share in the lack of sleep. There were no date nights. There were no nookie sessions while she was away at her father's.  You see, he's a dangerous man..but that's for another day.  This is about screen time.

When I became a single parent, I became a fan of the babysitter named: "The Screen."  Screen allowed me to get dinner made without her hanging on me near a hot stove.  Screen made it possible for me to throw in the laundry a flight down and even switch it over!  Screen made it possible for me to have a cup of coffee in the morning while snuggling with Honey Bunny because it was 5 am and I wasn't quite ready to get up and get going.

I discovered Screen was quite nice.  We belonged to the Disney VHS program.  You know, the one where they send you a new one every month?  The one where the child squeals when the mail is opened and there is their new movie? Oh yea, we don't have that anymore. :)

I needed Screen. I loved Screen. When Honey Bunny was 5, I began to consider dating again.  I had one night off a month. If the guy wanted a date on a Friday night, Screen wouldn't allow it.  Why? Because that was my date with Honey Bunny.  We had pizza and popcorn and would watch Kim Possible, The Proud Family and whatever Disney movie came on after that.  It was OUR night. Screen made our night possible (and if a guy wouldn't settle for the following Saturday date, then he was done). Screen helped me screen men. :)

Three years later, a man passed the test of Screen.  I became pregnant and was re-married.  I married a man who LOVES Screen! Screen is more his mistress than I at times (of course, he can find more naked women on it at 11pm on Skinamax than he can with me. I'm either asleep or not interested because I'm talking with Honey Bunny now 16 or trying to get Boo Bear to bed at age 7, naked is SO far from my thoughts these days!).  But hubby? Oh, he trained Boo Bear to listen to and watch Screen just a few weeks old!  He wanted Baby Boo Bear to sleep in her crib and trained her to do so to listening to Disney movies.  This crib bit only lasted a few nights as I couldn't stand it, but the screen..well, that has lasted.

Every night, Boo Bear watches Netflix or Disney to fall asleep. Right now, Boo Bear is watching Tom and Jerry as I write this. BUT, here is the difference: I don't use Screen to babysit any more.  Yesterday, we walked for 8 hours around Charlotte learning about history and art.  Today, we've already spent 3 hours at a nature preserve, 2 of those were spent on a variety of playgrounds where she climbed, played tag, swung and did things kids SHOULD do...play, be active and have fun.

For me, Screen DOES help me get dinner done and it does allow me an uninterrupted shower (sometimes), but Screen also contributes to their education nowadays.

Screen has taken on the form of Apps and Games, of Discovery Education documentaries, of History Channel programs.  Screen now takes on Algebra and Grammar.  Screen has evolved into a learning  buddy, not just a boob tube of nonsense.  When Screen is on, and I think it's fluff (cartoons, etc.) then I listen in (while doing dishes/laundry/cooking) and we talk about how they treat each other. Was that canned laughter really something funny or was it insulting and the canned laughter is making you think you should laugh, even though it's truly bullying?

I now use Screen as a teaching tool.  You see, as I've matured and grown up, so has my use of Screen.

Screen and I now have an understanding, as long as Screen is balanced with running, jumping, hands on dirty learning, then Screen can stick around. If Screen becomes Honey Bunny and Boo Bear's ONLY means of living, then it gets scaled back (and try THAT with a teen, an iPhone and a boyfriend!).  When I see it becoming an issue, I simply talk WITH the girls about it. Both will admit sometimes they turn to it because they are bored.  With that in mind, we made up over 100 slips of paper with ideas on them and put them in a jar labeled: The Bored Jar.  They now go there first rather than Screen when they are bored.

You see, no one has ever said: Wow! What a GREAT day of TV! I will remember this forever!

That is ONLY said when we are INTERACTING and LIVING our lives...TOGETHER and watching TV is being alone together.

Friday, June 20, 2014

WANTED: A Different Child

Let's be honest here, Readers. At some point, we all want our children to be different than who they are.  It's a brutal opening line because it's so honest.  Let me tell you about my walk on this path side by side with unschooling and how unschooling helped me better accept my children.

Honey Bunny is a terrific kid. She is loving. She is caring. She is compassionate. She is my first born. And truth be told, if Rumpelstiltskin had come and threatened to take her away a few years ago, I would have happily handed her over, waved good-bye and ran as fast as I could laughing at him for not knowing what he was getting into.

Now understand, I am not an evil mother.  I am a step-mother to 2 others who don't live with us, but I am not evil.  At that point in time, my sweet Honey Bunny was NOT sweet.  She was horrible!  She was mean.  She was uncaring.  She was not compassionate.  She was a b*tch.  She was someone who I feared being with because she was so awful.  She was 12-14.  We can all blame it on the teenage years but I don't believe in that nonsense at all.  I know it was some of the trauma she experienced from a significant person in her life as a toddler as well as the many bullying incidents at school from age 4-12.  But, I didn't want her to be a b*tch.  I didn't want to live with a b*tch.

Honey Bunny also suffers from severe anxiety and depression.  This is very hard on me.  I'm an introvert by nature and although I enjoy reading and crocheting and being by ourselves, I also like to have people over and to be social.  Most people never guess I'm an introvert because I put on a good show in public.  Hello people, it's called acting.  Anyway, Honey Bunny's anxiety is so severe that there are times we can't leave the house.  There are times it stops her from enjoying life. Imagine a teen, who is biologically driven to belong to a group, shaking so violently in a new small group she has to leave and vomit and has massive panic attacks at even the thought of going to the grocery store.

At this point, all I wanted was a different child.  I'll be honest. I wanted a child who was emotionally stable. I wanted a child who could go to the grocery store. I wanted a child who could enjoy life outside her bedroom. I wanted a child who I could share life with. I wanted a child who could suck it up and deal with the crap and move through it.  I was angry. I was resentful. I was still loving her but it wasn't genuine. I can't even say looking back it was unconditional, although at the time I would have said that (silly me). I wasn't withholding my love until she did ABC, I just wasn't accepting her for who she is.

Until one day. One day, I was sharing (complaining) with a friend about how hard it is to parent Honey Bunny. How it wasn't fair. How I wanted to be able to enjoy life and share life with her but she was such a b*tch and so scared of life I couldn't get her out of her room.  This wise friend asked me a question which has always stuck in my head whenever I feel like this (because it does come back):

"Would you dislike a pine tree for not being an apple tree?"

I answered "No. Of course not."

Then she went on to tell me a story which I will summarize (mainly because I don't remember it exactly).  It went something like this:

One day, a woman was cutting her lawn and noticed a tree growing in her yard. She had wanted a tree in that very spot desperately and was happy to see it growing.  As time went on, the tree grew and grew.  One day, the woman discovered it was a pine tree.  She didn't want a pine tree!  She had wanted an apple tree!  She had envisioned making apple pies in the fall from the apples on her tree and had visions of people's happy faces when she shared her delicious pies.

With this in mind, the woman ran over the pine tree with her lawn mower.  She did this every chance she got.  Every time she mowed the lawn, or had a clippers in her hand, she went out to the yard and clipped down that pine tree.  Damn it! She wanted an apple tree! If she couldn't have her apple tree, she wasn't going to allow her pine tree to grow!

Her neighbor, upon seeing this strange behavior over and over, went to ask why the woman kept cutting down the lovely little tree which was growing.  The woman, in a  huff - all sweaty from cutting down the pine tree, yet again, told her neighbor: "Because I want an apple tree, that's why!"

The neighbor looked at the woman with the clippers in her hand, the pieces of the dying pine tree in hand and began to tell the woman how lucky she was to have a pine tree growing.  It would never lose it's needles in the winter. It would provide shelter for the deer in the cold.  It would look lovely decorated with holiday lights and keep the dark of night at bay while lit during those long winter nights.  It could become a delicious place for pinecone feeders for the birds.  A pine tree was a lovely plant and if she wanted an apple tree so badly, why not go to the nursery and buy one?

The woman was speechless.  It had never occurred to her how lovely the pine tree could be because she was focused on wanting and apple tree.  From that day forward, the woman never mowed or clipped that pine tree. She allowed it grow and become the beautiful tree that it was supposed to be.  And that apple tree she wanted?  Well, she decided to buy apples from the store.  They were good enough.

What I heard in this story?  I wanted an apple tree of a child! I wasn't appreciating her lovely pine tree-ness!  Me! The mother who proclaimed unconditional love. The mother who said she loved her child just the way she was as she stroked her child's hair as Honey Bunny fell asleep - was lying right to her face!  I was ashamed. I was embarrassed.  I was a .... phony! Something I hate above all things! A hypocrite! I realized that every time I uttered a word of disappointment or frustration, I was cutting down my child, my "pine tree."  Every time my face portrayed irritation or disgust I was cutting her down!

From that moment on, I began to love my pine tree daughter. I began to see the validity in who she was and is. I encouraged her growth in what SHE wanted.  I let go of my fantasy of who I wanted her to be.  And want to know something?  We struggled.  She struggled.  The demons came back to my mind sometimes and told me she should be different, but I battled them. Truth be told, we both still struggle. She wants to be someone else and sometimes I want her to be that someone else.  BUT..the truth also is she CAN be that someone else if ... she....choses....to.  It is in her control.  Life is in her control now. She can be whomever she wants to be because we have accepted her for who she is.

Through the ideology of unschooling, I have been better able to love my children with all their differences.  You see, unschooling isn't about not learning.  It's not about unparenting.  It's about accepting the fact that a child will follow their passion and learn what they need to learn and want to learn more when they are ready to learn it. Truth be told, we ALL need to trust ourselves and unschool ourselves in our daily lives.  Trusting ourselves and our children is one thing we don't do in our society, yet when we do it, the results are amazing.

My pine tree is now a beautiful young woman who still struggles from an anxiety disorder but because I accept her for who she is and trust she will contact me if she needs support, she was able to go to a prom with people she'd never met.  She is now exploring her artistic side and making friends who are good for her because she is genuine.  My pine tree has grown up to be beautiful and full of the ability to feed those animals in the deep dark months and light up the dark nights with her spirit all because I allowed her to become fully who she truly is: an amazing young woman I am proud to say is my daughter.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

My 7 Year Old Can't Read & I'm NOT Worried

Yes, you read that right dear reader.  My 7 year old cannot read.  I am not worried.  Why am I not worried?  Quite simply, because when she is ready to decode it, she will.  Here is some background on our family.

Maternal Grandmother: Dyslexia and 9 other Learning Differences. Learned to read at 12 & went to college with a 7th grade education. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University with a triple major done in 1 year

Maternal Grandfather: Undiagnosed Learning Difference - but see them readily in him. Voted best Realtor in CT 2013

Father: Dyslexia and other Learning Differences - holds a 6 figure income job

Mother: NO Dyslexia, but 9 other Learning Differences - has owned 2 businesses and had clients such as the NY Yankees

Biological Sister 1: Dyslexia - Learned to read at 8 & is attending UNH next year

Biological Sister 2: 8 Learning Differences - Amazing artist & in charge of her own education

Biological Brother: Dyslexia and 3 Learning Differences - attends a military high school and is on honor roll

Okay, so you see where I'm going with this, right?  Each of us have our own learning difference.  Each of us have been successful in our own way, in our own time.  WHY is there this rush to get kids to read when they aren't even ready yet?

When I first began homeschooling my then 12 year old, my youngest was 3.  I knew I didn't want to send her to school. I was already having to undo the torture school had done to my oldest, Honey Bunny.  There she was, 12 years old, saying she'd rather be dead than go to school - and this wasn't drama; this was the real deal threat.  We'd had the police involved three times in four years over bullying.  The last incident had to do with sexting. Truth be told, she looked like Olive Oil! There was nothing sexual about her, yet she was different than the others at the school: an artist, not a jock.  She was a target. So, how was I going to make sure things were different for my toddler?

In the book Einstein Never Used Flashcards-How our Children Really learn and Why they Need to Play More and Memorize Less, by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, she reviews how we learn language and why play is so important to the synopsis in the brain.  I would read it while sitting in the tub every night after putting Boo Bear to bed.  I would sink myself down into the bubbles, grab a glass of wine and learn about how the brain worked.

In that book, discovered that the crux of learning has to do with two things: Defining Intelligence and Defining a Sense of Self. Without those two things, what good would it do for Boo Bear to learn her ABC's and the sounds if she didn't understand them or believe she had the ability to understand them.

I was challenged on every level of what I had been taught.  I had been taught, by society, that only schools and teachers could teach my child. Only the government could decide what they should learn, and that was valid and the ultimate voice.

I was frightened and asked myself all the time: Can I do this? What if I fail? What if I mess up their lives?  What if I end up hating my children?! What if I become one of those mothers who dictate every moment of their children's lives and begin to regret homeschooling? What if I can't decide on curriculum? What if what I chose they hate? What if I hate it?

I was scared. I was really scared. BUT, I knew school was worse.  Much worse. The worst that would happen is it would suck.  I would hate my moody pre-teen and I could send her back to the wolves who were destroying her.  Chances of my doing that were slim to none, but the opportunity was still there.  The door wasn't shut. Taking her home to school her didn't mean I couldn't put her back into the system if being home didn't work.

So, now 4 years later - this is what I have learned.

Can I do this?
YES! And I LOVE IT!  BUT, only because I discovered Unschooling. Honestly, I hate the name and try to find a way to call it anything but that. Democratic learning. Child led learning. Natural learning. I haven't found a way to say it yet. I'm still working on it.  We tried curriculum and it didn't work for us.  My teen has severe anxiety and depression and there are days that her just getting up and making it through without self harm is a success.  I couldn't have the stress of a curriculum on us. She DID attend an online school which she enjoyed for 1 year. It was all virtual reality (www.wilostar3D.com). But, after a year she was bored. We went back to unschooling.

What if I fail?
Well, so far I haven't.  My 7 year old can't read. Yep. You're right. But she asks how to spell EVERYTHING. And she knows lots of SAT words because we do a word a week with her sister and they need to use them in a sentence multiple times during the week. Boo Bear is also amazing at science and deductive reasoning. She can do double digit addition and subtraction in her head.  Have I forced it? No. Does she have a workbook? Sure. We bought a Disney Princess one from the Dollar Store.  She's used it 3x. She prefers to take out her math cube manipulatives and do math that way.

What if I mess up their lives?
Hasn't happened, yet. LOL We are very good friends.  Dayna Martin (thesparklingmartins.blogspot.com) was an inspiration to me along my discovering Unschooling.  I loved the books by Sandra Dodd, but when I met her in person she scared me.  I ran across Dayna when she did her first ever Life Rocks Unschooling Conference.  It changed my life.  Dayna wasn't scary.  The people we met were real. They were involved in their children's lives.  I mean really involved.  I love her book, Radical Unschooling - A Revolution Has Begun.   Recently, Hubby and I have been drifting apart.  I actuality old him that if he died, my life wouldn't change. Now, that's just sad. He's supposed to be my partner, but instead he's become a shadow in the background.  I did some soul searching and felt it was because we approach parenting from different angles. I'm peaceful and in partnership. He's authoritative and in conflict.  Well, gee - why would I want to be with that? He's fallen back on old habits. I handed him Dayna's book last night, asked him to read it and the lights went on for him.  Today was much better.  He actually chose to come sit at the pool with us and interact rather than watch the World Cup (big deal to him).  I felt very blessed.  So far, I haven't messed up their lives.  Our lives have been made better because I discovered a better way to parent.

What if I end up hating my children?
Well, when Honey Bunny first came home--I'll be honest. I did. I was afraid of her. She was MEAN.  I mean ... MEAN MEAN.  I truly disliked her. I cried and cried because I disliked her.  Then, I realized it was because she had to be like that at school because she was attacked. She had to "deschool."  Four years later, she turns to me for almost everything.  She's come to me with 200 slices on her arms and we've faced a psych ward together.  She's come to me broken hearted from the boy who took her virginity and I got up at midnight, sat by her while a whole craziness took place on Tumblr and even took her for french fries and a shake at 3am.  Does this sound like someone who hates their children and their children hate them? No. We trust one another.  We respect one another.

Dictating their lives?
Hell no!  I can't think of anything worse!  They are in charge of what they want to learn. I introduce ideas. Honey Bunny is in high school. She does Teaching Textbooks. She does coding. She reads what she wants to read and does write ups on it. She write poetry. She draws. She takes photographs. She watches historically correct movies.  Boo Bear is big into science and movement. She does math and helps me budget.  She loves to be read to. She loves Tumblebooks. She loves Discovery Education and is teaching herself to type.  I help facilitate what they want and need.

Curriculum: Hate it? Love it?
We discovered it just doesn't work for us. Honey Bunny and I create her own curriculum. She is getting high school credits through the North Atlantic Regional High School (www.nrhs.org).  So we have to have a class description and proof of what she's done so she can get credits for it.  That way, she will have a diploma from an accredited place, not just a print out from my computer.  It works for us.

So, to wrap up:
My 7 year old can't read.  I'm not worried about it and the reason I'm not worried about it is because she has a full life. She goes to the library weekly. She partakes in groups there. She partakes in dance class. She has a true Sense of Self Worth. She has a true Defined Intelligence. Just because she can't decode what the letters say together doesn't mean she is stupid.  Take a moment to talk to her about objects in motion or the relation of an object to energy and she will blow your mind away. Just don't ask her to read you a Bob Book. She's not there yet.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Novel Ideas

I've been asked by many people to blog about our Unschooling experiences.  To me, this is an unusual thing to do. I mean, we just live our life - learning along the way. That's not to say I don't plan things out. Oh, I do. It's just that life takes it's own course along the way, daily (if not hourly).

First off, I have two children ages 16 and 7.  They are both girls.  The oldest, Honey Bunny, suffers from severe PTSD from a trauma in her childhood. She also suffers from severe social anxiety created by public school from ages 3 - 12 (preschool included).  The other, Boo Bear, has high anxiety due to too many changes when she was young within our family structure and moving 10x in 8 years.  So, to say I have my hands full is an understatement.

We chose to unschool because it meets our needs with their needs.  There are days we get tons of work done and then there are days where we get nothing done but getting through the day and that in and of itself is a huge accomplishment.

Before we began this journey down the road of unschooling, I did a lot of research. Honey Bunny was 12 and we pulled her out of school in October of that year due to severe bullying and wanting a better life for her. I bought her a curriculum and that "worked" for about a day.  Yeah, you read that right: a day. Her comment to me was: "If I wanted this, I could have stayed in school."  That began our journey into unschooling.

I ran across Sandra Dodd's website. I even met her. Loved her site. Loved her book. Didn't like her as a person.  That's okay.  Not a big deal. To me, she is too radical in her views. We are each allowed an opinion and like belly buttons, we all have one, therefore I am not impressed when someone's opinion isn't the same as mine. BUT, what she did do for me is open my eyes to the world of John Holt: the man who originated the idea of unschooling.

To clarify, unschooling is NOT unparenting. It is NOT allowing your kid to do anything, at any time, without any guidance.  It is NOT about allowing them free access to the road with the trucks which wiz by at 80 miles per hour at age 2 without proper safety measures in place to protect them.  I have met some parents who take unschooling into the unparenting realm.  To me, that isn't what it's about.

First of all, HOW is a child going to learn how to be a loving and caring adult if you are not loving and caring? Truthfully, sometimes you have to say no when you are loving and caring. No, Little Johnny, you may not go out in the street and play with the big tractor trailers going 80 miles per hour. Yeah, that's loving your child.

What unschooling IS is this:
1) Respecting your child.  Ask yourself this question: Would I treat my spouse/my peer like this? Would I speak to my peer in the same voice I speak to my child? Would I expect my peer to drop everything they are doing the moment I say we have to go (if it's not an emergency)? No. I would go to my peer and talk to them respectfully, explain when we need to go and ask how to best help them accomplish their goal before we leave (in this example). Well, then treat your child like that!

Treating your child as your peer in NO WAY undermines your authority as the parent!!! Novel concept, I know.  Can you imagine this: a two way street of respect from child to parent?! Wow! Now, this doesn't happen overnight if you've always had an authoritarian position over your child. It will take time for the both of you to trust one another. But, it does come. I promise you that.  It comes with apologizing. It comes when you are both allowed to say things like: "Your tone of voice is really hurting me." At this point, all either of us has to say is: "Tone" and we know we've stepped over the line. I'm not upset when my kids say this to me.  It shows they love me and respect me enough to let me know when I've stepped over the line. Yeah, you read that right...I'm human. I stepped over the line and disrespected them.  It does happen.

2) Allowing them to explore.  Again, another novel concept. Allowing your child to take the task of education into their hands. What can a 5 year old know about learning you ask? What DOESN'T a 5 year know about learning?! They probably know more about learning than you do because they don't know they shouldn't ask questions!!!!  They haven't learned yet that asking questions is an imposition on others.  They haven't learned yet that asking questions makes others uncomfortable because that person may not know the answer and doesn't want to be embarrassed.  You see, at 5 they are curious about the world. They want to know everything.  Let them learn!!!

Boo Bear, who is now 7, has never experienced what it's like NOT to get an answer to a question. Does that mean I know it all? Heck no!  It does mean I am willing to look it up on the spot (or when we get home depending on how much data I have left on my phone at that moment).  Imagine taking a walk with your child and like any child they pick up something off the ground that interests them (that your adult eye didn't see).  Then, while they are asking questions as they always do, imagine stopping with them, getting eye to eye with them and looking up their questions on the spot. Stop your walk. LISTEN to them.  Imagine the bonding. The trust. The love. The acceptance. Imagine what that could do for your relationship.

Oh wait, you have a teen you say? How would that work? Well, imagine your teen coming to you at 11pm and asking you to stay up so you can talk.  Imagine your teen WANTING to be with you because YOU respect THEM. Imagine your teen coming to you because they know you will listen, not judge (as much as possible) and respect your opinion because you respect theirs. It IS possible! Imagine your teen being inspired to learn because they aren't learning boring crap but stuff they are interested in and trust me, they WILL learn the boring crap if it has meaning to them to get them to where they want to be. It's about THEM, NOT YOU.

3) Learning. Yes, unschooling is about learning. It's about taking the blinders off of what is supposed to be learned and actually learning.  Honey Bunny wants to be a tattoo artist (this week). Ok. So with that in mind, she is exploring different art genres and practicing them. She is working on proportion and shading. She is working on mathematical theory which allows her to do balanced work. She is working on history because she has to learn about how tattooing came to be in different cultures and what it represents so she can better understand a client. She has to learn about how to budget so she can afford classes. She has to read about how tattoos impact people's views of others.

EVERY SUBJECT YOUR CHILD IS INTERESTED IN CAN COVER ALL AREAS OF EDUCATION.  How's that for a novel idea?

So, what does our typical day look like?  That's funny.  I rise about 7:00 - 8:00, depending on the dog. I feed her and let her out. I have a cup of coffee and I sit down and do Facebook and blog. :) It's MY time.  I water my garden if it hasn't rained. I balance out the pool chemicals (if it DID rain).  I think about the day ahead and what's going on and try to plan how to back into things.

Boo Bear wakes up naturally any time between 7-10am depending on what time she went to sleep.  Yes, she and I co-sleep because hubby wakes up at 5:30 and that is too early for me!  When Boo Bear wakes up, we cuddle and she watches tv for about an hour. She's a slow waker.  Boo Bear does NOT do well with a schedule and bucks when she has one. I'm talking full blown melt downs and anxiety up the wall.  She is a free flowing child if there ever was one.

I wake up Honey Bunny at 9am because she is a teen and would sleep all day if I do. She has to be downstairs by 9:30 for breakfast and medications.  Keeping her on schedule is important. Honey Bunny thrives on routine and schedule.  By 10, her school day starts. She is in high school and I get her courses approved by the North Atlantic Regional High School (NARHS.org) so she does have to do time and have it written up. She starts her day with math (least favorite) and coding (big time favorite). She's done with those by 11. Then she usually reads her book and writes up answers to questions I've come up with.  From there, it's usually art out by the pool so she can work on her techniques and get some vitamin D. After that, she's free to do whatever. Sometimes that's knitting, sometimes that's youth group, sometimes that's just chatting with her best friend.

Boo Bear, on the other hand, is a free spirit. After tv time we do breakfast of some sort. Then it's off to bounce on the yoga ball and usually she creates her own math equations and writes them down as she does them.  Last week it was creating a number line around the pool and she would hop to and from numbers as she added and subtracted them and jumped in the pool at her answer.  Usually I read her a story while she's swimming in the pool about a living history moment (she loves the American Girl Doll books). Then it's lunch and we do some drawing. From there, maybe it's free play or it's science. She loves science. Maybe it's measuring our garden plants or watching a documentary on Discovery Education with a follow up of questions and exploration.

Somewhere in there I throw together dinner with them, we talk, we hang out and we live. Dad comes home and we sit down to dinner and talk about our day- our favorite part, our worst part, what we would have changed if we could and what outcome that would have. We talk about what we did that day, what we learned and what we want to do that night.  Sometimes it's movies, sometimes it's just alone time.

That's our typical day. We do this year round.  Sometimes, we do nothing but errands all day. Sometimes there are flashbacks and therapy sessions.  Sometimes, days go perfect and sometimes quite frankly they are shot to shit.

Every Sunday, I sit down and plan out the week on Scholaric.com  My teen usually finishes it all.  My younger one? Nope. We end up going in different directions every week, but it makes ME feel good to have a starting point to go from with some sort of structure concept.  For example, I use the concepts from KONOS and this week (and last) we were supposed to be working on Illusion vs. Deception. Well, that hasn't worked out. We are listening to the 1st  Harry Potter book on CD, except I left the CD we are listening to in my mini-van and that had to go into the shop. We've watched the movie. She is comparing the two verbally, when we have the CD.  She's learned spells and Latin along the way and looked up illusional art. We've had discussions about the difference between illusion and deception and in her words: "It's the intent of the person doing or saying it." In other words, "if the person is intending to do harm, then it is deception if they are intending to do good (Pen and Teller, the cool chalk guy who does those awesome drawings) then it's illusion."  She has the concept. But I feel like I've failed because we haven't cracked open a single book we got out of the library and I'm hoping I get them back on time, don't misplace them and have to pay a fine. LOL  Do I feel we've covered the subject? Not really.  Maybe I'll pull it into next week and tie it into history or maybe she'll have no interest next week. I don't know yet. It's only Friday.  I have 48 more hours to figure that out.

I just know if I don't have some sort of plan, it's a free for all of bumbler*ck that entire week.

To wrap up, unschooling to me is about respecting one another, living our life true to who we are, and making sure we learn along the way. Perfect? Nope.  Able to check off we did A, B, C in order? Probably not. But that's ok. I know when I look back over everything we've done (I  log it during the day) I feel confident we've accomplished a lot.