Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mini Freak outs

There is a child in my house who has a hell of a time sitting still. Actually, I have a couple of those, it is just that this one is "school age" and therefore is expected to sit nicely on her behind and do...stuff.

I am a bi-polar homeschooler. I have days when I remember that I keep my kids at home because I like them and I have fun teaching them. I remember that I am giving them the gift of a childhood not lived sitting at a desk, the freedom to learn at there own pace and follow their unique gifts and interests. And then I get on Facebook or go to a friends house and see the test scores and worksheets and nicely completed, holiday appropriate crafts on the fridge. I have a mini freak out moment and make my kid-who-hates-sitting glue her butt to a chair and crank out handwriting worksheets.

Today, I read this.

I love when science backs my play.

Reading this reminds me that the reason I love our family's choice to homeschool. I love that I don't have to make Little Miss Wiggle Butt perform to some standard set buy a dude she will never meet and who couldn't give a rip about the things that are important to her. I have the ability to RESPECT my kid, and where she happens to be in this moment, and it is good.

Today was freak out free. We played princess zookeepers and had a great conversation about why the lions and the giraffes needed separate play-dough cages. We discussed herbivore and carnivore and put crowns on playmobil people. Outside we talked about why it isn't cool to chase the chickens or give them too much scratch. We practiced letters on a white board with crayons and did math with cubes on the floor. And we played. Lots.

Part of my brain will always wish that raising my children to be self sustaining, happy adults was a liner process that was chartable with standardized test and check lists. But humans are not that way. We don't all grow up to be the same person and so our paths will never be the same as anyone elses. So today, I managed to live without the lists or mini freak outs, but I make no promises for tomorrow. Or next week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Almost a Grown-UP!

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who got married at a shockingly young age. It was rough, but it seemed to work. This frightfully young woman went to college and had a job. She taught classes full of small children and was pretty sure she had this kid thing all figured out, after all, she went to school for that. And she had been a nanny. I mean, people PAID her to take care of children, so she must be good at it.

Poor broad, didn't have a clue.

Real life has a way of smacking you on your ass with humility. Mine came in the form of 4 children. I was an amazing parent until I actually had kids. To this date, I am pretty sure I have learned more from my children than I have been able to teach them, which is saying something (not a good something) since we homeschool.

My children are approaching the age where I am no longer required for sustenance twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Although Jamison is no closer to weaning now than he was 6 months ago, we can at least throw a juice box and string cheese in his general direction and hold him off for a bit.

This means that for the first time in 9 years, I might have the opportunity to be a grown-up in a world of grown-ups. I might be able to MAKE some money instead of just spend it.

There is a problem with all this; you see, I am not the same young woman who believes she knows it all. And I am not sure I want to teach kids anymore. All this time spent in the trenches has turned my heart. I now understand that if you want to have amazing children grow up into fabulous adults, then you need to equip parents for success.

So I am packing up my lunch box, throwing my trapper keeper into my backpack and going back to school. I took some classes while we were on the east coast, but I am doing more. In May I will get certified to teach Love and Logic and by the end of the year I hope to finish up the credentials to be a Family Development Educator.

Matt has been awesome about this. He gets that, while my children will always have my heart, occasionally being a stay at home mom makes my brain rot and run out my ears. With full understanding that it will create more work and cost money for me to go back to school, he has been nothing but supportive.

So here is to a new chapter, turning over a new leaf and whatever other cliche seems to fit the moment. I am so thrilled to go on this new adventure, my heart and soul yearn  for a life lived bigger than myself and I feel like I am headed down the first steps of that path.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Something less than Romantic

I suck at romance. I am a bit too much of a pragmatist.

I am into love. Totally. I use it as my guide post for everything in life. I try to make my words loving  my actions love filled and my responses love based. Love is the yardstick by which I measure success.

My long suffering husband gets this. He knows I would much rather have a small box of chocolates that he planed ahead to get me than a massive, 5 lb assortment that he ran out to get the morning of our anniversary. I put "thoughtfulness" way higher on the list than "romance".

Matt brews my coffee most mornings. He brings me breakfast in bed sometimes on the weekend, especially after I have had a long night with the baby. When he really wants me to feel loved, he sweeps and mops the dining room. He plugs in my cell phone so that it doesn't die, something I never seem to be able to remember to do. He does the dishes EVERY NIGHT because he knows floaty things in dish water totally give me the woo. He brings me flowers because he knows how much I love the look of fresh flowers on the table. He gets up early with the kids each morning knowing how I hate the early hours.

And watching him love our kids makes me fall more and more in love with him every day. There is nothing sexier than a good man being an amazing father.

So I guess this great guy will just have to settle with a girl who just can't seem to be romantic, at least not in the candle light and soft music way. Instead, I will make him his favorite dinners, wash his dirty socks and clean up all the trimmings he seems to miss while shaving without complaint. I will put fresh sheets on the bed and make sure his side is how he likes it before I fall asleep, I will bring him lunch when he is too busy to remember and I will do my best to raise our kids to fall in love with or become a man like him.

And, maybe on a good day, I will write some sappy words in a card and get us a nice bottle of wine, just to keep things interesting.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My kids didn't get dressed today until after 10. I am wearing yoga pants and a hoody...which almost doesn't count as getting dressed at all.

So far today, the girls have painted their nail and had a "spa day". Eliana created a party for everyone, complete with making homemade brownies. The girls dressed and packed their dolls to go on an adventure, which to them to the swings in the back yard. There was a puddle and stick that made for some great painting on the back patio. The bunny was released from his cage and the girls fed her various green and growing things trying to figure out her favorite. Then they made her a salad. Jamison has driven his car, thrown the ball, stomped in the mud and fed the bunny a carrot. The weather is awesome, so everyone is currently wandering around the back yard while eating lunch.

I suck at home schooling.

We have done nothing school related all day, and I don't really plan on it. Not a worksheet has been filled out, a text book opened. I am not really sure that I care.

I watched this the other day. My already unschooling bent was affirmed but my traditional/education background freaks out every so often, telling me I am setting up my kids for failure.

But what if...

What if instead of focusing on a precisely measured and plotted line of education, I focused on giving my kids a stellar childhood? What if I said "screw it" to grade expectations and instead focused on life long skills that are often overlooking in traditional schooling? What if I go through each day with my "end game" as my focus?

This begs the question, what exactly IS my end game?

The answer is a bunch of adjective that bounce around my brain failing to line up nicely in a mission statement. I like mission statements, so this is slightly unsettleing for me. The words that come to mind when I ask myself what I want my kids to grow up to be are as follow: happy, loving, kind, intentional, always growing, purposeful, adventurous, brave...

I am not sure how diagramming a sentence or solving algebra equations helps any of this.

So I think I have a new goal. My goal is that my children achieve a "adiquate" education and an amazing childhood

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Buba

Eliana has a formerly yellow bunny that has been her favorite since she was small. Actually, she has 3. When it became apparent that life would not be happily lived without said bunny, we invested in a few more, just to be sure. When she was big enough to have words but still small enough that most of them were hard to decipher, she named said bunny, buba. And hence forth, all loveys in the Crocker household have been called bubas.

Addilyn fell in love with a yellow blanket. Annabelle has a pink blanket and a hippo named Bo.

Worried about starting school? Take buba in the car. Sad because daddy is away for work? Snuggle buba in bed until you feel better. Slow to wake up? Drag buba around until you feel able to face the world. Buba is the answer to most questions of insecurities.

This evening I slipped away for some time alone. Though my sweet hubby encouraged me to call a friend to share a drink with, my soul craved quiet and solitude. The best place for that? A library, or, in this case since the library was closed, a book store was a second best.

I love book stores. Something about them is deeply satisfying to me. I could wander the isles forever, picking up and reading random bist that catch my eye. Tonight I settled on 3 random selections. First was a book of random facts. Second was a book about re-purposing household goods for other tasks (Did you know all the things you could do with vinegar?! But I digress...) And third was a book about the origins of the bible.

As I ordered my coffee and chose my seat, I rolled my eyes at myself and my selections. Not sure they could have been more eclectic or a better representation of myself. My love of facts, my desire to be useful, my spiritual quest...

The other night I spent 3 hours on the computer researching Pro-Mia/Pro-Ana web sights and information. I don't know anyone who struggles with either of these, nor am I aware of any in my circle who struggle with eating disorders at all. So why the research? Because I have daughters and 1 in 5 girls will struggle at some point in their life, and maybe, just maybe, if I know enough I can protect my kids from this kind of life long struggle and pain.

Information is my buba.

When faced with something new or unknown or even the slightest bit interesting, my first response is to read, devour, and become obsessed with information. On some level, I suppose, this is my area of insecurity. It is if I could just fill myself with enough information, then I will be able to not just make a good choice but the very best choice that is within my power to make.

We all have bubas. For some of us it is the way we appear to the world. If we can just come off as having it all together, then maybe we will feel deeply inside that it is true. For others it is control. They feel the need to be in control of every aspect of their life so that nothing bad can happen.

For me it is information.

If I can just know enough, be prepared, then I can help protect and insure outcomes. If I can be the best parent, then my kids will turn out great, sheltered from the pain of poor parenting. If I can be the best teacher, than those I help will be able to be amazing parents who raise great kids.

But that just isn't how life works. Despite the illusion that my safety blanket of knowledge protects me, I am not in control. I can never know enough to keep me safe, I can never have all the right answers to any problem that life might throw at me, I can never prevent my children from making bad choices.

I will always be, deep into the core of who I am, an information junky. And maybe some day I will learn how to hold my life and the lives of those I love with open hands.