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...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here are some pictures from our mini vacation. We ended up going to the beach instead of Crater Lake. The beach was nice and it didn't rain the whole time we were there! We stayed at a campground near Lincoln City OR, but we went to several beaches, including Cannon Beach where we got up early and looked at the tide pools at the hay stack rock.

I love the picture of Margaux with the blue kittie angel shirt! She looks like an anime character. All in all our trip was fun. We spent 2 nights and 3 days at a campground, then came home checked on the cats and went back to the beach to visit a friend, where we stayed the night in his beach house.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How you learn when you do things you love

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.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Update on Being an Advocate

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.