Monday, February 29, 2016

Unwanted Parenting Advice: The Proof is in the Pudding

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Tonight on Facebook a friend posts a random article on her profile, an article from a parenting blog called 
Scary MommyUnwanted Parenting Advice From Non-Parents And How I’d Like to Respond and it hit me!
I would have loved this post ten years ago when I had little ones. Those years ago I couldn't have spoken up for myself yet. But this week on Facebook, 

I commented: 
IF I had read this article years ago when my kids were younger and IF social media had been around back then I would have posted this article!
Over the years I have had SO many family members advise and be critical of nearly every single thing I did as a parent. It bothered me then, now I just think: LOL.

I'm referring to this article because WOW could I relate to every single thing that Clint Edwards wrote in the Scary Momma post and it cracked me up...but that post was all about parenting little ones and I have bigger ones. 
And I still hear it.

  • You baby her.
  • You need to teach them about the Lord.
  • You should send him to school.
  • She is obviously your favorite.
  • He's on his phone too much.
  • This proves you are not doing well homeschooling.
  • Well it worked with my kids.
  • Insert Racist Comment Here

As a young parent or as a beginning homeschooling parent it can be so nerve-racking to have people critiquing your performance. 
At a time when you can use support and love, these unsolicited opinions are nearly 100% unwelcome, aren't they? How someone can criticize that which they have never experienced simply confuses me as an adult. How any adult can think that disrespect and effrontery is helpful...well, it amazes me. 
It would not occur to me to suggest to someone else that I have a better understanding of their life than they do.

Unless you have this child, the anecdotal experiences of your child or your dog or your nephew or your neighbor doesn't count. *

At the end of the day you have to simply trust yourself and trust your well-considered decisions. People love to give advice and to criticize, at least my people do. Years ago I stopped listening to their criticism as well as to their compliments when I realized that their words just don't mean anything to me. Their opinions had ceased to hold value.

You have to figure out whose voice you will listen to and whose voice will not listen to. It took me years to figure this one out. 
If there was anything I could have changed about my time as a homeschooling mom it would be to completely let go of listening to input from most of the people in my world out there. 

As soon as I  figured out I could stick a finger in each ear and repeat LALALALALALALALA, I had peace. And, as I always remind myself, the proof is in the pudding.


* YES, I did have one very beloved person suggest to me that their experiences with their pet made them qualified to make parenting suggestions to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You are SOOO Gay

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The other day I was having dinner with my boys. Sitting across the table from them I was watching them telling stories, eating their meal, cutting up, cracking up, making me laugh. As I sat and watched, I noticed one more thing. They touch each other constantly.

When we walk they are holding hands, touching fingers, arms over shoulders. They are like bruhs, only better because there is no bickering.

As we waited for our check I looked over at my beautiful boys and said, You guys are SO GAY!

They both laughed and squealed I know, right!

John told me about how he and JD were at the mall the other day and when girls tried to get their attention the two of them would act like they were together. I've noticed it, many times, where John and JD have their hands or eyes on each other...alot...and are always smiling at each other and I think it is LOVELY.

I love this generation of kids. So many of them are open and loving about gender and sexuality issues possibly the first generation of kids ever to be so healthy about it. It makes me very proud of the entire generation. It's kind of adorable because almost every single friend of my kids claims to be bi-sexual even though they might obviously be homosexual or heterosexual. John told me that kids all claim bisexuality because, if you don't, people might call you a homophobe. Isn't that an interesting?

I love them so much!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Homeschool: Tricks for Improving your Day

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Having one of those days?
How about a bad week?  Rough month?

Listen, I'm here to tell you it happens.
It happens to all of us. We are all human and humans have bad days. We have times when we can't live up to our own ideas about what our day should look like. We let little things add up. We simply can't get ourselves or anybody else motivated. We get into a slump. Public schools have gotten wise to this and they give teachers day-long Teacher Days and seminars and things to help them improve their approaches and attitudes every so often.

In a homeschooling family, somehow, it just feels worse because of that no-break-24/7 thing.

I know what your house looks like.

Laundry is everywhere, piles of clean, piles of dirty, piles you can't identify. Dishes are a few days behind. Nothing in the frig for dinner. Crabby kids. Crabby Mom. Tears? Shouting? And what's that smell?
It's normal and it happens in every single family.

How you act under these circumstances may very well become a lesson for your children. Should I freak out (that release might feel great and well-deserved, for a moment), take a nap (who can argue with the rest), or drive away in a huff (as I did recently)? Or should I sit down a moment, get myself together, and gather the troops?

How do we Reclaim our Zest?

When a slump happens (or a battle, or lethargy, or other challenges) it's usually because people are feeling bored or resistant. What is needed is a change of venue. A change of plan. A change of attitude. A chance to reconnect.

So let's look at some idea for how to change the way the day is going.
  • Get everyone together, grab a water bottle, and take a walk.
    Yes, it CAN be as simple as this. Walking stimulates the body to action. Walks can happen in the neighborhood, at the park, in the zoo, at the mall, down stairs in a pinch. Hold hands if you possibly can.

    Taking a walk in a familiar area can make a person feel a sense of belonging. (Look how orange those leaves have gotten!  What happened to this little garden?  There is that man walking the dog we always see!) Walking someplace new can be a wonderful activity of discovery. (What is this seed pod? What a surprise to find a creek here! Where does this little path lead?)

    Any age, little ones or big ones like mine, can find their attitude changed on a walk. We have done this many times.  I usually bring a camera when we do this: Crazy Photo Shoot Day. Crazy Home Video Day. Nature pics.
  • Put some music on and dance.
    Dance Moves

    Don't laugh! It's true! Music and dance get the body moving and lifts the spirits of even the downest teenager. Open the blinds, crank up the tunes, and dance together and apart. Make sure to add in some unfamiliar music for fun. Square dancing, Romanian folk music, 40s Swing music, the Foxtrot, Medieval music.

    Music tames and terrible twos (and twelves) and soothes all other ages as well. We have done this one so often that the kids will do it themselves with no prompting from me. Sometimes it only takes one song to change everything!
  • Grab a favorite book and start reading aloud.
    The kids can be doing other things, including sulking, while your voice brings everyone together and gives focus. We have often done this one with poetry where each person reads aloud from the poetry books. But Rick Riordan works well too! Cook books, map books, large table top books, riddle books.

    We have often done this silly reading game:  each person has their own book of choice. Each person reads, one at a time in a circle, one sentence from their book. Sometimes the funniest things happen!

    Take an entire week and read. Read at the park. Read in the backyard. Read at the coffee house. Read in bed. Read under in a fort. Read comics. Read joke books. Read the newspaper. Read National Geographic. Read favorite children's books to your teens.
  • Put the books away and sing, draw, or play board games.
    Talking on the bed
    Anytime I am in a rut, finding a place for creativity and play always brings delight and comfort. The same for my kids.  My son John recently asked for a sketch book so that he could entertain himself while being on a long road trip.

    But let's not forget the creation of new things. Make up your own songs. Create a new board game. Write a skit. These activities can keep you busy and can keep the creative juices flowing all day...all week!
  • Get in the car and go. 
    Where? Keep it simple. Try the library. Go to the next town's park. Visiting water is always right. Creeks, ponds, streams, rivers, oceans. There is so much life in the water and the discovery never ends. Short of water destinations, animals, are limited only by your imagination. Drive around the block twenty times...or just until the giggles start. Above all else, CHANGE what you are doing.
  • Pinterest and other online file sharing sources.

    Lunch with Aunt Linda
    Look for a cool craft or science experiment and do it. Watch a documentary. TEDtalks. Google Earth. News sources. Online cams. Online magazines. The options are almost endless. Internet surf together and discuss all you see! If you have a PC, you have the world at your doorstep. Read the same news story on different news sources...very interesting.
  • Take a blanket outside and do lessons there. 
    Yes, just this simple movement can make all of the difference in the world.  There is something about clouds overhead, freedom to run, tickling grass, and sunshine that changes everything for the better! I have pulled this little trick out of my hat numerous times. The kids know, when I grab the blanket, their eyes light up and they start smiling...and so do I.
  • Teen and Tween girls and baths are always nice.
    (Moms love them too...and so do boys.) A little TLC, some soothing music, a colored and yummy-smelling additive, and even the crankiest tween/teen will feel comforted, loved, and energized.  This little trick has reset my daughter quite a few times...always with lovely results. It remind both of us that what we are doing is child-focused and that my goal is to give her what she needs.

    Want to improve it even more? Give her a hair wash or a back wash...and a kiss on the head. A book to read.
  • A pot of tea, a plate of cookies, and thou.
    Call a break in the procedures and sit down together. Talk about plans, vacations, fun things. Just let the frustration slide off of you by slowing things down and taking a break. A cuppa is always a nice habit to get into anyway. Taking a few minutes to shrug the stress off, enjoy sparkly cookies, sparkling conversation, jokes and riddles, and a laugh or two.
  • Boys appreciate activity. 

    Of course, girls too too. If possible, get them moving in any way possible. Slide down the stairs on their bottoms. Wash windows. Build a fort with cushions and sheets. Make a bowling alley with cups. Play "Mother May I."  Make an obstacle course. Create a highway for the Matchbox cars. Exercise. Add movement anytime in any way you can.  Can you say "tickle fight?" How about "Pillow fight!" Wash the car. Chalk lessons on the sidewalk. Jump rope with songs. Fitness trail Trivia Quiz. Garden. Look for insects. Help an elderly neighbor with chores. Your imagination is the limit.
  • Teens need contact with friends.
    Alot of contact with friends.
    Arrange visits with friends frequently. Allow your kids to IM, FB, and other social media sites. It is essential for them. Hand them your calendar and have them fill up a day or two with plans with their friends. Spend some time planning an event...maybe just a celebration dinner! Send out an SOS and an invite to other friends and family--and warm up the calendar with plans.
  • Invite someone over. 

    Visiting friends
    Even a visit from the neighbor can break up the rut of a day. In fact, as a kid, I remember going over to "help" neighbors with chores. But, even better, get on the phone and plan several play dates and fun events. Get the kids around the phone and get excited! Some other mother might be overjoyed to do a "kid swap" every so often. Because, remember, everyone has days like this...
  • Veg.
    Take the day off. Heck, take the week off. No one is watching. No one is grading you. No one is judging you. No one is comparing you to anyone else. (If they are, Ignore them!) Pop some popcorn, grab the coziest blanket, and watch a movie, TV, documentary, cartoons, or, in our case, Korean dramas for Elizabeth, Scrubs for John. Sometimes we all need to veg.

    Every single person on earth has days...several days sometimes...when they need to just VEG. If either Mom or child needs to take a break, remember, loving is far more important than lessons. Don't worry about comparisons, judgments, or mess. Somehow, you will find the vegging becomes quite productive when it leads to a happier day!  And...
  • Control/ALT/Delete  Everyone jump back into bed and start over!

Time Out
Didn't Work...

If none of these things work, maybe things are more serious and Mom needs more. If it's a bad day for Momma, getting away, getting rest, getting support is essential. Even if it's just getting a breather in your room with the door closed. The kids will learn that moms need time on their own to reflect, to rest, to regain composure, to read a book, and yes, just to breathe. When I need it, the kids know they can find me in my room reading...

Taking care of MOM is essential. This is for homeschooling families or any family. If Mom is feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or ill she needs some additional help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and families. Nearly every homeschooling parent I know would be more than happy to lend me a hand if I needed to take a break. I hope you have that resource as well. If that's not enough, please seek help. No shame, no judging, just acceptance and strength. Because that is what it truly is: it is strength to know when to ask for help. Homeschool or not.

This is a piece I borrowed from a couple of years ago
and rewrote and added new pics.
It all still applies.

My Atheist Memes and My Late-Night Angst

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OK, so I love Pinterest and I love photo editing. Combined, they are the perfect storm for my late night moments of angsty atheism and meme making.

You see, often I find myself so frustrated with the state of the country, this conservative and Christian country in which I live. I get frustrated with the good people of this country buying the codswallop that is so very divisive. I am angry and frustrated with this fractious nation. 

Two sides, moving further and further apart.
No bridge in sight.

The distance that some Christians and other believers have to go in order to maintain both their beliefs and to maintain the stranglehold of power in the places of authority is staggering. Facts, reality, and evidence are actually suspect in this country that worships faith over knowledge. I sometimes feel as though I am living in a George Orwell novel or in a Twilight Zone episode.

We have a powerful political party in the United States that seems to reward blind loyalty, classism, racism, sexism, corporations over human beings, theocracy, reduction of personal freedom, the 1%, outright hatred of anyone different from wealthy and white, and overall extremism. How can so many adults in this country that I love support this??? What must a human being think to support this?

Anyway, in my small way, I am spreading my love of true freedom out there through my memes. I have created dozens of atheist and freethought memes that can usually be found on Pinterest. I'm posting a few here, just in case you haven't seen them. Many of the following memes are a single example from a series of posts that all have a similar appearance. If you go to Pinterest and look for atheist parent or atheist memes you will definitely start finding my stuff.

...are wrong.

Too Much?