I know I post a lot about Chamille and her best friend, but it's so ever present in our lives. The daily frustrations and hurt feelings are a lot to go through. It's hard sometimes to just be happy when circumstances beyond your control continually bring you down.
Chamille is doing pretty well considering. It definitely impacts her well being though. The letter brigade is helping and I've heard from her mother that it has a huge impact on E. too. "Mother?", you say. Well, yes, she has a mother. Her mother hasn't been involved in her life for a number of years. I'm not sure of the circumstances. I've only heard the dad's side of the story, and given the source, I'm not so sure about the validity of anything said.
The last couple of weeks, I've been trying to find a way to contact E.'s mother to see if I could somehow circumvent the dad. I didn't know her name or where she was living, so it was impossible to find her. I had kind of given up on the idea, when she called me! I don't want to get in the middle of custody issues, but, I can at least meet her and Chamille and E. can hang out together for a bit when E. visits her mom. It will get back to the dad though, because the older daughter will tell him, mostly to spite her sister.
It turns out that the mom is equally concerned with what has been happening. She, like me, has no control or say so in the situation. What she sees and hears however, is a very unhappy child who hates her father with a passion that she can't even express, so it eats away at her and causes her a great deal of stress. I could have told her that! I'm sure E. is biting her nails again, something that her dad doesn't even notice that she does.
I don't know if I'm doing the right thing or not. I do know that the mom has been wanting to meet some of her kids' friends for a long time now, especially Chamille. Chamille has been wanting to meet E.'s mom as well, since she already knows she doesn't like the dad and stepmom.
I will tread lightly....
Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...
Monday, October 29, 2007
I know I post a lot about Chamille and her best friend, but it's so ever present in our lives. The daily frustrations and hurt feelings are a lot to go through. It's hard sometimes to just be happy when circumstances beyond your control continually bring you down.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Remember those owl posts coming for Harry Potter, the first time, when Hogwarts was trying to invite him to school? Boy, that Uncle Vernon was in a bad way with all those letters.
Chamille and I would love to replicate that in real life. I would be pretty costly in the form of stamps. Chamille sent a letter to her best friend, which included a self adressed stamped envelope for returning a letter. This is in response to not being able to have any form of contact with her friend. Well, she's not allowed to call, or email, or visit. Her dad didn't say, no mail regular post, so there you go.
The first test letter was sent with no reply. We know, but the dad doesn't know we know, that he took the letter and wouldn't allow E. to read it. WOW! I was really hoping that she would be able to read a letter, that somehow it would prove to me that he had one ounce of decency in him. It's not as if the reality has shattered an image, I'm just always the optimist, hoping for the best!
Ok, so she couldn't read the letter, but that doesn't mean we can't send them and lots of them! It's interesting, because not that long ago Chamille and I were talking about handwriting skills. She feels that hers isn't all that great, however, I think it's fine and perfectly functional. I told her not to worry too much, because most writing done these days is typing, not by hand. Even I don't hand write much. I listed off the things that I've hand written, paying bills with checks, adding bills on paper, writing grocery lists, phone numbers, addresses, quick notes to myself, and writing addresses on envelopes. Now here we are writing letters and addresses on envelopes.
So, E. won't get to read them, but at least she will know that there is someone out there that really cares about her and her happiness. Chamille also decided to add funny little comments on the letters, like, "you can do it E., get those grades up." and "keep your chin up" and little positive things like that. We know the dad is going to open and read them, so we thought that might be kind of funny, with the added bonus that E. might accidentally see it and have a quick moment to smile. Here's for hoping!
So, now we just need to buy a bunch more stamps, as we are almost out already. Perhaps postcards would be cheaper! I'm going to look into that today. E. should be getting 2 letters in the mail today, and 2 tomorrow, and the next day will have quite a bit more, hee hee hee!
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 11:57 AM
Monday, October 22, 2007
Do people really ban books?
That's what Chamille asked the last time we were at the library. Upstairs in the teen room there was a display of books that had been challenged at various libraries in Oregon.
Of course this proves my theory that everything forbidden is immediately more alluring than need be. Chamille was VERY interested in checking this out, this idea that there are books out there that have ideas and information that some adults don't want their kids getting access to.
She thoroughly looked through the books on the shelves and decided she'd like to try one. Chamille read her very first full length chapter book. I read it to. It was pretty good. Now she wants to find more books like it.
Chamille never did finish reading the last Harry Potter book. I'm anxious to discuss it with her, but I'm waiting patiently until she reads it or we get the cd from the library to listen to.
I'm in the middle of reading Stargirl to Chamille and she loves it. It's such a wonderful book with cool ideas and thoughts and visual images. I just found out that there is a sequel, so now I've got to make another trip to the library to get it and perhaps some other books.
A while back, I was considering subscribing to a mail order movie rental like netflix or cafedvd, but I've decided to utilize the library for a bit to see what we can find there. We've watched some really cool movies lately. You can learn sooooo much from watching movies.
I think the next set of movies are going to be 1960's related. Chamille has had a sudden interest in that time period. We've recently watched movies that relate to the earlier part of that century, ones that talk about WWI and the depression and other aspects of US and world history, including fashion and hair styles. So, now we are going to fast forward a bit and skip over that nasty WWII, actually we've been there/done that kind of, and onward to The Beatles and John Lennon and other 60's related stuff, that I'm sure will include fashion and hair styles.
The next trip to the library will include some 60's movies, sequels, and some more banned books.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 1:50 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I consider myself a partner with my kids. We are on the same team and work together to get what we want in our lives. I don't think this could be possible if I were to implement control in any form over their lives.
There are all kinds of control based relationships, some of them really icky, like how my daughter's best friend has with her father. Some of them are subtle, like coersion, giving children choices like do this or do this (enter really yucky thing). Both of them are control. Control comes in many forms, but none of it is healthy to building strong relationships.
As adults we can recognize this with other adults, and partners, but what about kids? So many adults don't even consider how control is really unhealthy to kids. Why are so many adults dealing with control based relationships as adults? Hmmmmm, I wonder.... If so many kids are growing up with control implemented in their lives, surely that is what they learn in regards to dealing with others. Perhaps they don't grow up to control other adults, but I'd be willing to bet they learn to do that to their own kids.
When you unschool, first you get rid of the idea that one must "teach" a child in order for them to learn. That is the very first step to unschool, although some people come to the idea through attatchment parenting. When you really examine the idea of forced learning and natural learning, it comes to the idea that one person cannot really get another person to learn something, it has to come from within the learner. Sometimes kids want to please the adults in their lives and regurgitate ideas that make them appear to be learning the things the adults want them to be learning. That idea goes against how real learning actually happens. Real learning comes from the internal desire and motivation of a person that wants to know something because it is relevant to their lives.
When someone is choosing to home educate their children, they decide what their kids need to know based on their own ideas of what is important. When someone chooses to unschool, they let go of those ideas that parents know what exactly a child needs to learn. For each person that will look different because all kids are different and all families are different and all people live in different communities, have different incomes and influences, and talents. What does look the same, is that there is a deep form of trust that is formed by this idea of partnership.
Yes, I'm talking about control again...
If a parent decides to unschool and let a child follow their passions, they help them along the way by offering up activities and ideas that help to feed that passion. If a parent trusts a child that much and acts like their teammate to meet a common goal, then where is there a place in that lifestyle for control?
I haven't found a place for that. If you really trust your children to make good decisions and learn from their mistakes in a positive healthy way, then the parents really need to back off and work hard to NOT control the lives of their children. That includes, when a person sleeps, eats, what they eat, what they watch on tv and for how long, how long they play video games, and how much they chat online with their friends. If a child finds these things to be valuable, and if a child needs to eat a cookie at midnight, then that should be a choice freely available to the child. If it's not, why?
It always comes down to the "WHY?" question. So many parents justify their need for control of their children. Even some unschooling parents want to justify their need to control some aspect of their children's lives. They say things like, "Well, you don't know my child and he really needs me to tell him that he has to stop playing video games, because if I don't he will play all day and then be cranky, and I just can't have him behaving in this way."
Do people even consider that this kind of reaction of a child, to be cranky towards a parent, is directly related to the feeling of being controlled? Nobody likes to be controlled, NOBODY!!!!! You show me one person who does like it and I may change my mind, but for now I will stand by what I say. I may not know other people's particular child, but I do have a pretty good idea of the nature of children and people in general. Children are constantly belittled and demeaned in our culture. How did we ever get to this place in our world? It starts with the small things, like honoring a child's need to have that cookie right now, even when dinner is ready in ten minutes. Is it going to kill them to eat HFCS or PHVO or (gasp) white sugar, or whatever offending item that a parent has deemed unfit for the good of the child, or that it will spoil their appetite?
I personally find it much more harmful to the psyche of a child to tell them "no" and that their wants and needs are not valued, and that the parent's idea is better and more valuable. It makes kids feel less powerful. I want my kids to feel empowered and valuable. I want them to feel that they can do anything, I will not be their stumbling block!
It all counts! Everything has value and can be learned from. Kids who have the trust and freedom to explore their world in a safe and comfortable environment will do so. I find that kids WANT to do the right thing, they want to be healthy and comfortable and smart and they want to have fun doing all those things. Why wouldn't they, that is just something that many parents project onto their kids, this idea that all that is hard and needs to be shoved down their throats.
Again, it all counts! When you take away the box, there is a whole world out there for kids to explore and learn from. As a parent we can take our kids out of the "school" box, but then come home and put them in a box of another kind, a parent contolled box of "can't" and "shouldn't" and "for your own good".
Here's a good link to check out:
how children really react to control
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 1:26 PM
Sunday, October 14, 2007
This little quote was taken from a message board then I answered it:
> I believe that TV is addictive and as such it should be treated with
> care. Most parents would not allow their children unending access to
> other addictive substances. I was addicted as a child.
A lot of studies say TV is addictive. Frankly I just don't see that being true. My kids have free access to the TV and free access to the remote control to turn it off. Currently my 13 year old doesn't watch much TV and my 6 year old does. It isn't or hasn't always been that way. My older daughter used to watch a lot of tv and my younger daughter used to hate watching tv.
They watch it when they want to watch it, just like I do, just like my husband does. TV, just like everything else in the world has good things and bad things in it. If you want to see it as an art form, it is a reflection of reality and vice versa.
A lot of people homeschool to shelter their kids, protect them from the world and the views of others. That is not why we homeschool. I don't want my kids to be isolated from the culture that we live in. Wether I like it or not isn't the issue in regards to tv, the issue is that it IS a part if our culture and a reflection of it and vice versa, just like books and art and science and math and everything else in the world.
Why would I want to limit access to such a powerful tool? If I were to choose a curriculum to teach my kids, it would be equally limiting and yet somehow not cover nearly the expanse of topics and ideas that are presented in tv and other media. My kids might actually get a better more rounded education if I forced them to watch movies and tv to learn about the world. There is not a single aspect of life that isn't in a movie or tv show or video game somewhere.
It really helps to unschool, to see the value in ALL things! But back to addiction and what it is and isn't. While I do believe things can be addictive without chemical dependency, I think behavioral addiction is a phenomenon that is caused by other factors that involve a feeling of lack of control. Which isn't anything like chemical dependency. People can be addicted to books in the same manner. Perhaps people do this to escape the reality that they live in. Again that is about control, to escape a reality that they have no apparent control over.
Control is what we are talking about right? As parents we try to or try not to control what our kids are exposed to or not. A kid that is NOT controlled is going to behave very differently in regards to how they handle media. Just like someone else posted earlier about the time limits/control over her son's video game playing, and how her son counts down the minutes and hours until that time arrives. You can gaurantee that he will NOT miss that time alottment. You can gaurantee that he will pass on just about everything else to make sure that he gets in his video gaming. You gaurantee that he will play video games. Wouldn't it be better to just let someone play video games and watch tv until they are done and then freely move on to other things?
While your kids are freely watching tv, movies, and playing games or chatting on the internet, try to see what they are seeing in it, what they are learning from it, what the value is of it. Look at it in an ubiased way. Then, if you still see that they aren't doing these things because they enjoy it, find something that they do enjoy and offer that up instead. It's about choices and the availability of them and access to them. If someone would rather watch tv, movies, and playing games or chatting on the internet than whatever else you are proposing, then either it wasn't very interesting, or what they are doing is clearly very valuable.
Why do parents, generally, like to minimize what kids find valuable? I remember when my older daughter was young, she loved Pokemon, really loved it. I remember sooooo many parents trashing Pokemon, calling it a phase, it will pass, commending the teachers for banning it from school, etc, etc. I couldn't even imagine doing that to something that my daughter clearly loved and was interested in, it would be like a good friend trashing my hobbies and personal interests. I don't think I'd stay friends with a friend like that.
We can do that to our kids too. We can see the value in things they love and foster a relationship that draws on that, or we can minimize the things they love and find value in and we set ourselves up for and adversarial relationship. Personally I want the first option, and if finding the value in tv, movies, video games and internet usage and whatever else is what it takes, then that is what I do.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 4:18 PM
Friday, October 05, 2007
After much debating and thinking and discussing, Chamille has decided to hold off on trying out school and give another effort at making some friends in another way.
She came to me one day about 2 weeks ago and informed me that she wanted to go to school. It's her choice of course. It is natural that she'd be curious about it, as she's never been and it's such a huge part of our culture.
The largest reason was for finding and making friends and seeing her best friend more frequently. She hasn't been able to see E. for a while now because there is always some excuse or another coming from the dad about why she's unavailable. The last time E. came over I had to pick her up with the car because her dad told her that it wasn't ok to walk here. So I drove the 3 blocks and picked her up.
While she was visiting, E. and Chamille decided to walk over to the minimart about 2 blocks away. It was about 6:20 when Chamille came home by herself. I knew that E. had to be back home at 6:30, so I was expecting them back at our house any minute. Chamille was really upset when she came home and informed me that E.'s dad showed up at the minimart in his car, made his daughter get in it and drove away with not so much as a bat of an eye towards Chamille. I guess he was really mad about his daughter being at the minimart, but I can't imagine why, because the girls have been walking over there on many occasions over the last year.
What really upset me was that he left Chamille there all by herself without any regard to her safety or well being. I always prefer the buddy system, although, on occasion she has taken the dog on a walk without another person with her. She had to walk home by herself, not a huge deal since it's only about 2 blocks away, but not cool that she was just left there.
I considered calling the dad about 20 minutes after they were supposed to be back and asking him if Chamille and E. were at his house since they were supposed to be home and hadn't shown up. I didn't, but I thought about it. It would've made him have to explain himself and his complete disregard for my child.
I just can't even talk to that man. The longer this relationship goes on, the worse he gets. I am no longer comfortable with Chamille even going over to their house even if she were invited. If the parent in charge over there doesn't consider my daughter's safety, then she shouldn't be going over there at all. I feel really badly for Chamille. I've discussed all of this with her and she agrees that she doesn't ever want to go over there, because she's really uncomfortable with the way her friend's dad treats her and his own daughter.
E. is grounded again so it's not likely that Chamille will get to see her anytime soon. It's an indefinite grounding, where she has to "get her grades up" and isn't allowed to see any of her friends (as if she has any other than Chamille) until she does. It's all very vague and I'm sure that it has everything to do with previous events and his continuous undermining of their relationship. He even changed his mind again and said that E. isn't allowed to sleep over here. I found out about that about a week ago. I guess it doesn't matter anyway since E. is grounded for life, or so it seems.
I feel so badly for the girls, but there really isn't anything I can do about it. It's all about control with him and right now he's doing a great job of controlling the whole situation. There is really nothing I can do accept validate Chamille's hurt feelings and the huge sense of loss and upset that she has over all of this.
So, Chamille considered going to school to be near her friend and maybe have a few moments with her throughout the day. The catch is that they are not the same grade/age, and there is no gaurantee that they would be in the same house, lunch period, classes, etc. They could be in a situation where they don't see each other at all during the day.
We took a walk over to the school on a weekend and peeked into all of the windows. The way the school is set up, is repetitive hallways, converging on a circular entry way. By the last set of hallways, Chamille says, "I don't need to look in those windows, it will look the same as all the other ones.". I looked and she was right. The hallways looked sterile and bare, with the occasional school slogan posted on a designated board. Even the art room was sterile and bare. We talked and walked and looked.
The next day she told me that she'd like to give it another go at finding friends outside of school. I'm trying, but it's really hard. All these local homeschool boards have people that insist there is a really great teen community, but we can't seem to find it or anyone who has kids involved.
For now though, I'm glad that she's not in school, but she needs some friends! Friends that are free to go and do stuff like hang out at the mall and go on walks and bike rides and all that good stuff.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 2:53 PM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 12:11 PM
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Chamille spends a lot of time at the computer. She's writing a story on quizilla. I don't know why she wants that format, but it's what she is doing. She wants to write a Naruto story and has loads of ideas that she's been collecting.
Last night she was showing me all the Naruto stories on quizilla. She's been reading them all and doing character analysis, specifically how the characters are typically portrayed in the existing stories. While she's doing this, she has several browsers open to check on other things too. She went to wikipedia to see a list of every character that exists in Naruto and was checking on who they were, if she didn't know already, and how they fit in the story and all of the other statistics on them.
It is pure and simple research. The kind of research one does for writing. It involves plots, character analysis, story line, and all that good stuff that people do when they are really writing and researching. She is doing it for her own real reasons because she is interested in it and wants to write a really good story.
Loads of kids in school will be doing similar stuff right now, on boring things that don't really interest them, because they have to, to get a decent grade. Chamille isn't going to be graded on her story. It's merits will be in the story itself and wether or not others enjoy it too.
Naysayers of unschooling may wonder about math and reading and writing and thinking it must be forced or kids won't learn it. Here, no one is forced and yet it happens all the same. She learned to read, she learned to write, and spell, all of her own accord without being forced or coersed. Now she is doing intense research and writing composition, using grammar, and proper sentence structure to write a story, without being forced. She's happy and content to do this all day long. Math happens too, but that isn't what this post is about.
Chamille can take as long as she wants to write her story, there isn't a deadline. It can be as open ended as she wants it to be. She could finish it tomorrow, or never, and still she will have learned a great deal that will take her to whatever she decides to do next.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 1:52 PM
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Here goes an attempt to write about recent events at our house.
In a recent blog I wrote about the parents of Chamille's friend and how they find reasons for our kids to not hang out and spend time together. Just in case any of you are wondering if Chamille ever got to hang out on that particular day, the answer is "no" because they never got back to me.
They moved, they split up and moved. The dad moved a couple blocks away with the kids and the stepmom moved to a nearby city. Over the last couple of weeks Chamille has not been allowed to see her friend for many reasons/excuses. To avoid Chamille, they sent their daughter out to the stepmom's house with the excuse of needing to spend time with her. She's been at home by herself everyday bored to tears, sometimes calling Chamille, and sometimes IMing her.
Chamille and I have been inviting her to do things, offering to pick her up and take her home. They really want to see each other and spend time together. The parents have said "no" to every invite. I finally found out why.
Friday, shortly after I wrote my last blog, I received a phone call from the dad about his concerns. We talked for half an hour getting nowhere. It came down to this; he thinks Chamille is bi-sexual and is uncomfortable letting his daughter spend time with her. Even after I explained to him that this most certainly wasn't the case, he still wouldn't agree to unsupervised visits, and absolutely no sleep overs.
This is so outrageous and hurtful on so many levels it's hard to break it down. First and foremost we are talking about 12 and 13 yr old girls that still think sex is something kinda gross that adults do, and girls that are behaving in a very normal level of intimacy for that age. Secondly, even if his weird assumptions were true, what does he think my daughter is going to do, molest his daughter? Rape her? Convert her? What? He is basically accusing her of being a gay sexual pervert out to get his daughter.
Some people may think I'm over reacting here, but these are girls that aren't even sexually active. What kind of adult thinks this way about young girls? It just feels sick and wrong. The way the dad spins it is that he wouldn't let his daughter stay the night and spend loads of unsupervised time with boys, he wouldn't let his daughter do that with a gay girl either. No matter how I think about this or try to understand this from his perspective, the more sick and disturbing it feels to me. He said to me that he hoped that I wouldn't be offended by any of this and I told him that I will never ever be as offended as Chamille and her friend are.
I asked him if he had talked to his daughter about this and he said that he just asked her if Chamille was bi-sexual. Chamille's friend said "no". He said no more to his daughter about any of this or had any further discussion about it with her. I asked him why he was talking to me without talking to his daughter first. His answer was that he wanted to handle this as adults first. He said that he wanted to talk to his daughter about it afterwards.
I told him that I couldn't tell him how to parent his kids, but that there was no way that I could pretend that I agreed with his decision or even liked it. I told him that he really needed to talk to his daughter first and trust what she says. Too late for that. Chamille was listening in to the whole conversation in horror, while IMing that very friend at that very moment. As soon as I was done with the phone, Chamille took it and went to her bedroom.
Of course she called her friend, but I wasn't going to check up on that. About 15 minutes later I got another phone call from the dad and he was extremely angry that I had allowed Chamille to talk to her friend and that his daughter called him in hysterics. I asked him how the hell he expected them to react to it all. He was mad that I didn't respect his parenting by allowing him to talk to his daughter first. I told him he should've done that in the first place. I don't know how he was going to spin it to his daughter, but if he wasn't going to listen to reason talking to me, he surely wasn't going to listen to his child. He already had stated to me that regardless of wether I assured him that Chamille was not gay, nor a sexual pervert out to molest his daughter, he still wasn't going to allow them to spend unsupervised time together, nor have sleep overs.
There was no mincing of words. When he called the second time mad at me for allowing Chamille to talk to his daughter. He told me that I had to respect his parenting and that since I can't respect his parenting, then he had no other choice but to cut off the friendship and that the girls were no longer allowed to see each other. I told him that no I didn't have to respect his parenting, but that he was free to parent how he liked. I also said something about him treating his kids dismissively. Some words were said, I completely lost my cool in that phone conversation. Let's face it, he's been trying for a while now to end the friendship.
He, on the other hand, lied to his daughter about all of this and told her that he never said any of those things to me. I imagine she's very confused and hurt over all of this. It's all about control and manipulation with him. His daughter's friendship was something he had no control over, and not only that, his daughter prefered to be at our house where it was pleasant and people were kind. I'm sure he perceived this as a threat that needed to be gotten rid of. I'm also sure that he isn't even aware of his own controlling and manipulative behavior. It's almost to the point that his kids don't recognize it as such either.
I have to say that when he first called and dropped this load of dung at me, I had half a mind to laugh at how incredibly stupid he is, and half of me knew if I did that I'd never be able to have a civil conversation with him. He called a third time, but I didn't answer the phone because I had nothing nice to say, so I decided to say nothing. His message was a feeble attempt at backtracking after blundering, but I didn't care. He's a jerk. I want nothing to do with that man. I'm still upset about it. I feel even worse that his children have to live with him!
Yesterday, Chamille got a call from her friend, which was intercepted by the step mom who told her that until I called back to talk to her dad, that she wasn't allowed any contact with Chamille. Excuse me for a sec while a yell "WHAT THE HECK?!" More control and manipulation, and I most certainly was not going to talk to him. I don't want to play his little games. I told my husband that he was free to call him and try to work it out if he wanted, but that I wanted nothing to do with that man ever again.
My husband called and said goodness knows what, perhaps some things I would never approve of him saying and perhaps some things that I would. He stated a lot of the same things that I did, and now the girls can still be friends at least, but with both Chamille and I not wanting to even look at, let alone talk to this man, I'm not sure how that will work. It makes me think that not only does this person have a nasty, dirty mind in regards to his young daughters, he also has no respect for women, or maybe my husband can speak "stupidese". If he said much the same thing as me in regards to assuring him that Chamille wasn't gay, nor out to get his daughter, and listened to him and not me, then I can only assume that he views words from the mouth of a woman as less valid than words from a man. I assure you that I was very civil and trying to be understanding with the first conversation I had with him, while he remained a brick wall, and didn't believe anything I said to him, or perhaps I wasn't convincing enough. Who knows?
Chamille has been saying for a long while now, that he is a sexist control freak. She has a pretty firm view on him based on his words and actions over the last couple of years. Maybe he will change for the better, maybe not, currently however I don't trust him at all!
Chamille is visiting with her friend right now at this very moment, going to an all ages rock concert with John and one of his friends who is also taking his son of the same age. I hope they are having fun, actually I'm quite sure they are! John called to invite her, since all communication is to go through him now.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 6:17 PM
Friday, August 31, 2007
Today is the first day of our vacation! Now that school is about to start, we can go and do something fun while the campgrounds aren't crowded.
I think we are going to Crater Lake. Of course we'd like to go to New Mexico, but we just don't have enough money for that. Crater Lake should be fun. We are going to camp for a few days, however we haven't decided which campground to use. I have a pretty big list to choose from. If it were just me deciding I'd go somewhere where there most likely wouldn't be anyone else there, but the family is thinking differently than that, so I've been looking around at all the different campgrounds online. There are a lot of them! My girls both want showers and flush toilets, neither of which I really care about, but I'm looking for that.
Hopefully the weather will be nice for us. When we get back I will post some pictures of our camping trip.
Today we are going to go do stuff outdoors, not sure what, just somewhere not at home! Today is kind of the last day of summer around here, as kids go back to school next tuesday. It feels weird. I wish summer would last all year long and kids could just be free!
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 9:03 AM
Monday, July 30, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 1:30 PM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 4:20 PM
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Yesterday we went to the mall, actually two malls. We don't go very often, just sometimes. We happen to live down the street from a large mall. However, we had to go to a mall across town, because I needed to exchange something from a store that was in that one and not in the one next to us.
I got to spend all of ten minutes in the store I needed to go to, and I'll have to go back because I didn't get to do what I needed to do. We spent much of the time in stores that Chamille likes. Yes, yes, you know, Hot Topic, and similar stores.
So after our mall experience yesterday, I've decided that I'm not taking the girls to the mall again together. Margaux hated being in Hot Topic and Chamille hated being in Build a Bear, let's not even mention the Disney store! Their needs are so opposed to one another that there is no middle ground here!
I love doing Margaux things at the mall and I love doing Chamille things at the mall, but for some reason, at this time in their lives they can't find a way to love doing that for each other. It's a lose/lose situation and I really try to avoid those. I like the win/win ones.
In the car, on the way home, I told the girls that from now on I will take one or the other, but not both of them to the mall, unless we absolutely need to stop and will only be there for about an half an hour at the most. Surprisingly they both loved this idea! Margaux starts talking about how cool it would be for her to stay at home with dad while Chamille and I go, or that Chamille could get to hang out with dad while mom and her got to go. Both girls were in complete agreement on this decision! See, they can agree on some things sometimes! Win/Win! Did I say how much I love win/win situations!
So, going to the mall might actaully be fun again, and I don't have to play mediator about every decision we make while there. I know they are just in very different places with their needs and wants and likes and trying to force them to deal with each other's needs and wants and likes isn't necessarily the best solution. A little empathy and negotion would help, but it just isn't happening with this particular part of life. They can do it on other things, just not this one yet. Maybe next year, or six months down the road, we'll see.
Since they are both good kids and Chamille is very caring and generous, and Margaux is getting better at that with each day that she gets older, I know it's not forever. We spend so much time together, the girls and I, that eventually it was bound to happen that we would run across something that they don't like doing together. Honestly I feel pretty lucky that this is a first!
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 2:23 PM
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 4:22 PM
Monday, June 18, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 10:21 AM
Friday, May 11, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 2:32 PM
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
It's a vague title, I know. There is just so much that has been happening that I haven't posted in a while. I would take about 5 pages to go over everything, so I thought I'd just stick to how awesome my kids are.
Chamille just got a DDR game with her leftover birthday money. Then our family got nice dance pads to play together. It's been so much fun dancing, competing, and getting excercise together. Chamille routinely kicks my butt, but that's ok, I'm getting better at it.
She also started taking her ninjitsu classes again after not going for almost a whole month. Her instructor emailed us letting us know that he finally has some girls in the class, so Chamille has agreed to give it another try, because that was her main reason for not going. There weren't many kids in class at all, and the few that came were either much older boys or much younger boys. It made it difficult to do "situational poses". It works better with others of the same size and ability.
Margaux has been very interested in numbers lately. She asks about a million questions a day about numbers. The other morning she woke up singing numbers in Spanish, then started asking about adding those numbers. That was interesting, doing math in Spanish. I don't know Spanish, beyond a few words here and there, counting to ten, etc. I don't even know how she learned the numbers in Spanish to begin with, tv? That's what I'm thinking anyway. This kid needs some language lessons. She seems to want to and have a propensity towards languages. A few months ago, she wanted to learn French, so I was telling her as much as I know. She really would do better with full immersion, but I'm not bilingual and neither is her dad.
For now, we are just living and doing, trying to find friends for Chamille, and trying to keep up with Margaux.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 4:04 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2007
It's been a while since I've posted anything. I guess we've been busy! In response to the needs of my kids, mostly Chamille, we've been doing things and meeting people.
Chamille is going through this phase where she keeps going back and forth about going to school. Largely this is due to wanting to meet people, not just any sort of people, but like minded people. We haven't been enormously successful with other homeschoolers, although, we have met a few people we really do like and that has been nice.
Lately Chamille has been walking the neighbor girl to or from school, for the sake of getting out by herself and being around other kids. I've been encouraging her to do this because we live in an ideal neighborhood for this with all of the schools within 4 blocks of our house, as well as neat trails and parks along the way. The neighbor girl is putting a lot of pressure on Chamille to go to school, which I find oddly ironic since this child hates school. Chamille is feeling swayed a little with the idea of being around other kids.
I have mixed feelings about this because I don't want her to go to school. I also want it to be her decision, and I will support her decision. I, personally don't think that she will like school, even if it has cool kids to hang out with. While it would be good for her to experience the unpleasantness of school first hand, I know that by going to school, she will then have to be compliant with testing and the like from here on out, assuming she comes back home, and I don't see her being ready for that.
Yesterday, Chamille walked over to the school with the neighbor girl after school to accompany her while she picked up homework she had missed because she was absent that day. It was that time of day when most kids were still at school, but school was out and kids were starting to leave. Chamille and her friend were confronted by an adult at the school, who, after finding out that Chamille wasn't a student there, made her leave the school grounds and told her that she wasn't allowed anywhere on campus and had to wait for her friend at the curb or the other side of the street, and then proceeded to watch and make sure that Chamille left.
To be honest, I never expected such a thing to happen. Chamille was helping her friend out by using the buddy system walking the distance to her school. While the school may have a policy of not having visitors, it was clearly after school hours, and she was clearly not staying or there without reason. Chamille came home mad at this person and mad that she couldn't just accompany her friend while she picked up some school work. After delving deeper, it seemed that it wasn't so much the reasoning this person had, but the attitude this person had towards her. I know everyone who has been to school has experienced this sort of person. The kind of adult who feels somehow bigger and better than the students, and therefore feels compelled to treat the students in a disrespectful and demeaning manner.
In our conversations about the pros and cons of going to school, I hadn't even considered this aspect. We've talked about the time consuming nature of school, the lack of opportunity to actually socialize with kids even if you happen to find a few that you like or even see thoughout the day, and the large amount of homework involved, the going to bed early and getting up early, and just about anything else relating to how school would affect her life.
Nothing could have prepared Chamille for the reality of going to school as that person did. There is nothing that Chamille despises more in life than adults who treat kids with disrespect simply because they are kids. After she came home with this bit of enlightenment, I looked up some of the school rules, and shared a bit about them to Chamille. Needless to say, she was appalled at the lack of freedom kids have in schools. As a child who has been given freedom, simply because she is a person who is respected as a person, she has no tolerance of others, regardless of who they are, that infringe upon her freedom.
Many years ago, I had this thought about schools and freedom, and the terrible irony they portray by teaching freedom, and not actually allowing it. Freedom is seen as an intangible concept, not something you can taste and breathe and feel. Our entire country is based on freedom, the tangible kind that the pioneers were seeking. Our freedoms are slowly eroding away, little by little, and it is no wonder really, when for 12 plus years of our formative lives, we are taught that freedom is an intangible concept, not something we can feel for our own selves. As long a kid has to ask permission to meet their most personal needs, such as using the bathroom and eating and drinking and getting a bit of fresh air, they won't know what freedom actually is. By the time they are out of school, and graduate to move on to "real" life, all they can think is "I'm finally free!" and go crazy and do stupid and irresponsible things because they don't know what it means to be free and be personally responsible for their own freedom.
It's a sad condition! I am truly grateful that Chamille understands freedom. She can feel it in every cell of her body. She knows the natural constraints of the world and accepts them because she is free. She may not be able to pass a 7th grade test, but she knows what it means to follow her passions and treat others respectfully, and know when others are not doing the same. No test ever will show how smart and wonderful Chamille is or what she knows that is important to her and her life. Testing might show her what she doesn't know, but I want her to know that she knows what she needs right now in this moment, and that it is still a small fraction of what one could know in life.
So, for now, Chamille has yet again decided that school isn't for her. Perhaps one day it will be, perhaps not! Most important is that she knows without a doubt that she is making the best decision for herself at that particular moment in life and is free to change it any time she sees a necessity to do so. If only everyone could feel so empowered!
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 4:32 PM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
It's really funny how life works sometimes. I have so been wanting to go to OMSI lately. We've always had a membership there but we haven't had one for about a year, partially because we just seem to be broke all the time and partially because they raised the prices, and partially because we went there so much that Chamille was starting to get tired of it.
We met a nice family and went to OMSI. They were able to get us in with their membership. Now I really want one. I'm going to have to save up $$$ here and there to just do it. I'm confident that somehow it will all work out. It just always seems to.
Chamille is going to start taking the adult Bujinkan class because the kids class just doesn't have enough kids in it. Right now there are actually more kids in the adult class then there are in the kids class. It could be the time the class is. The kids class is at 6 and the adult class is at 7. Really, 7 works so much better for us too. We can kind of skip the major rush hour to get there and eat dinner before we go instead of afterwards which ends up being around 9 by the time we get home and I've made it. That's just so late to eat, mostly because I don't feel like doing the dishes afterwards. Usually by 10 or so, I'm done for the night.
Last night was a bit hard for Chamille. She really didn't want to go to class. I really didn't want to make her. She waited until the last minute to tell me that she didn't want to go, though. The problem is that if she misses without advance notice the sensei could be showing up for nothing because sometimes Chamille and his son are the only ones there. I just didn't feel right about doing that. She skipped last week and I felt bad about it then, so I insisted that she go and we talk to him and work things out because she REALLY does want to take the class, just not by herself, when for her, being with other people is crucial to making things appeal to her, even things she loves like Bujinkan. It turned out to be exactly what we needed. We had time to talk and discuss the logistics of the classes, where Chamille is at in her skill level, and how it will all work out. He's such a fabulous instructor. He is open and receptive to his students in so many ways. It is just his style of teaching.
Through watching the class that Chamille takes, Margaux has figured out how to do cartwheels and handstands. It's pretty cool! I wish I could take the class, but I hesitate to jump in because I really want Chamille to feel like this is HER activity, not something that she does with her mom like pretty much everything else in her life. Perhaps Margaux could take the kid class and Chamille could take the adult class. That would be interesting. Margaux is really more into dance right now, but the stuff they do in Bujinkan uses so much of the same skills that you would use in dance or even gymnastics.
Here are some pictures of our trip to OMSI...
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 11:03 AM
Monday, February 05, 2007
I just have to say to all that Margaux learned how to swing. It actually didn't happen overnight or anything, she's been trying to figure it out for a while. She could even go through the motions with her legs moving in the "right" way, even though it didn't make her go any higher. She now has it down though, the whole thing, using the momentum of legs going each direction that you want your swing to go. She was even using her whole body to get herself higher. It was the first time ever that she didn't request that I push her continuously.
So many things are like that. I am rereading "How Children Fail" by John Holt. I read it for the first time when I was just beginning to home school. I learned a lot from that book. It just makes sense in so many ways. I thought I should revisit it now that I've been doing this home schooling for a while, to see how much more I can glean from his words with a somewhat different perspective. He talks a lot about how schools force kids to learn things without the kids ever really learning them, the regurgitation of facts without ever understanding why.
It's like learning how to swing. When Margaux was smaller and just able to sit on a big kid swing, I would stand in front of her and have her try to kick my hands. If her legs and feet went forward, she would be doing the movement of swinging. However, she didn't use her legs and feet moving forward to create momentum, it was simply moving her feet to kick my hands (or face, it was a fun game!). There was a desire to learn how to swing, but there was no amount of desire on my part or hers that was going to somehow magically make her learn it faster.
She had to discover on her own that swinging is about momentum and that by throwing your legs forward and back and using your body as well, it would allow that momentum to keep her swinging and in fact make her go higher.
Imagine what would happen if schools decided that swinging was a required curriculum and that it must be taught by a certain age. The teacher might demonstrate swinging and give a quick lecture on moving one's legs forward and back. The kids who really "got" it, probably before the teacher said or did anything, would all get A's and the ones that just didn't get it at all, would fail. They would then have to practice moving their legs until they finally "got" it and the schools would call themselves successful for having taught all these kids how to swing. In so doing those that knew how to swing to begin with would probably be bored with swinging, wondering what the big deal was all about, and wanting to do cherry drops on the monkey bars. The ones that failed would probably hate swinging because they failed so often and only succeeded to have all the glory taken by the school.
Kids learn how to swing, just like they learn how to ride a bike. Given that they have swings and bikes, they see a need, or have a desire, and figure it out when they are ready to do it. No amount of "teaching" or external motivation is going to make it happen faster or better.
Holt doesn't use learning how to swing as an example in his book. He does use reading and math and reasoning as examples. One of my favorite examples is when he is teaching division and asks a class to divide a large bag of marbles between 4 people. Most of the kids figured that by handing out marbles one by one, it would do the job, but a couple of other kids had the idea to measure and cut up the bag. He then talks to each of those kids and demonstrates what might happen to all the marbles if he were to take scissors to it and cut it up into 4 parts. That was when the kids realized that their answer didn't make any sense.
He went on to say this: "But of course if those children had had in real life the problem of dividing up a bag of marbles among four people, they never would have been so stupid as to try to cut the bag in four parts. Only in school did they think like that."
Learning needs to be real, connected, and most of all IMPORTANT to the person doing the learning. Just like Margaux learned to swing, just like Chamille learned to read, because they had a reason to, that was real and important to them. Given the opportunity, they both came up with a way to do what they wanted to do.
I am grateful all the time that my kids can learn what they want and need, on their own terms, in ways that are truly meaningful to them!
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 8:29 PM
Friday, January 26, 2007
Here is our family spending time together. For a long time I thought spending time together as a family was sitting around a dinner table eating. It's a fun way to spend time together, and certainly the media sure tries to push that message upon us. However, it's not the only way to spend time together. In our family it certainly isn't even the ideal way to spend time together. We do generally eat together, but usually not all of us at the kitchen table. I love my kitchen table, so I probably eat there more than anyone else. Our meal preperation is so odd sometimes that often someone is eating at the table while food for another person is being prepared. Generally though, we eat at the desk or at the coffee table, or a combination of those. Eating together as family time is overrated in my opinion.
The rest of us prefer a more traditional desk style. Margaux is sitting at my computer, but she has another one to use if we all want to do something on the computer at the same time, like a really cool RPG. It is nice to find stuff and share it with each other. We are all sharing music finds and videos to watch that we think each of us might like. Chamille has built a really cool Myspace and we like to check it out and watch her videos. It's really cool to see what she's done with that blank computer canvas. John is recording and remixing music that his band has made.
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 10:35 AM
Monday, January 22, 2007
Today is a beautiful sunny day. There is still a huge pile of snow where our cave used to be. The girls had a tremendous time smashing it! John and I watched, both secretly wishing that we could've just watched it slowly melt, but hey, snow doesn't come very often and smashing things is sooooo much fun!
Yesterday Margaux spent almost the entire day over at the neighbor girl's house. She's in one of the snow pictures, all in pink. She's one of the more creative players that we've had at our house and her and Margaux just get along tremendously. I couldn't ask for anything better for my girls. They each have a wonderful girl friend living right across the street. I never had that growing up, it was always a hit and miss with wether there were any kids, let alone, nice ones living in our neighborhood.
Chamille's friend is having a hard time in school right now and I feel so bad for her. She sees how free of a life her friend has, and knows that she can't have it. She's tried to convince her dad to homeschool, but he is not willing to do it because he works full time. That's hard. Her dad came over the other day to talk about E. and Chamille. He's never done that before. It turned out to be a very nice conversation. At the core of it, E. listens to Chamille. He was hoping that Chamille could use that influence and encourage E. to go to sleep if she starts text messaging her at midnight. I didn't even know they were doing this. I guess they do it almost every night. I'm okay with it for Chamille because she doesn't have to get up and struggle through classes sleepy. I guess E. is having a hard time staying awake and focused in school, and is suffering in school requirements because of it.
I talked to Chamille about it and she says that she actually has done that before and it only works sometimes. When she sleeps over, Chamille has to insist very strongly to get E. to let her sleep and do the same for herself. In those instances E. will listen.
I loaned the dad the book "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk". It came up in conversation, some of the very things this book addresses, so I suggested it and he was very open and receptive to it and actually wanted to read it. It's a good book for parents with kids in school, as it seems all the examples are of kids in school and dealing with homework and chores and the like. The same principles apply even if the kid isn't in school. I really like that book. I wish that I had read it when Chamille was little. A lot of the things mentioned in the book, I discovered on my own or with the help of reading unschooling message boards. Still there were things in there that I learned even after I thought I had it all down! Isn't that just the way it is! We never stop learning and changing and growing!
I took the opportunity to find out if Chamille and E. could go on walks and bike rides without parental supervision. Their family has been pretty strict about this and Chamille has been very much wanting to do these things. He was totally okay with it and actually thought this was a good idea, so long as he knows where they are going to be and when they are getting back. I'm okay with that too. He also said he would love it if Chamille and E. would go over to their house once in a while instead of always being over at ours. I can understand that too. I know why they don't go over there though, and it is mostly because of the older sibling there.
I'm happy for Chamille, she's a great kid! I'm happy for Margaux, she's a great kid too!
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 11:35 AM
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 2:25 PM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Posted by Jenny Cyphers at 11:21 AM