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...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My shameless self promotion of my Etsy shop

I've been promising for a while that I'd add stuff to my Etsy shop, so here it is. I decided not to put up my colored pencil stuff, and put up some hats. I love making hats and I've made a lot of hats over the last 2 years, but I tend to give them away. I decided to put the few I never gave away up in my shop! If you look in there, there is a hat entitled, the best hat in the world, and it is, in my very completely true and never wrong opinion!

I wouldn't have been able to do this without the fine camera work and editing by Chamille! It would've taken me more than twice the time that she took to do that stuff. I asked her and she graciously did it for me, so I'm giving her a portion of all my proceeds, if I sell anything!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fright Town season is IN!

Yay! We just started in with Fright Town this year. It's fun to see all the same faces and know the same people from last year. Chamille and I have been tasked with several cool projects already. We are helping with some costumes and props this year as well as doing make-up and scaring people.

AND, the really best news... Chamille gets to do a mentoring thing. The woman who ran all the make-up stuff last year is a truly amazing and talented woman. She also happens to have her own studio and works on a lot of make-up projects for local films and such.

She is one of my favorite people at Fright Town, so when I saw her I ran over to chit chat. I had been wanting to ask her, and it had been in the back of my mind, about her being able to train Chamille in exchange for free help and such. So as we were chit chatting, she actually brought it up and offered. She does official internships as well, and thinks Chamille would be a great candidate for training since she's already showed some talent!

I'm super excited for Chamille, this is such a wonderful opportunity for her! What's more, is that her studio is on the max line, so Chamille can get herself there, all independent style!

What a great start to September, the same week that school starts here. Chamille will miss her friends, but she will get to do some fun stuff to ease her loneliness!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The World is Open

Bob Collier found this. He's good at finding stuff like this and he puts lots of those findings at his website and on his facebook, which is where I found this one.

The World is Open

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the article about the book...


"The primary thing to realize is that it is informal learning which is skyrocketing. Informal learning has rarely had credits attached to it. The main words with this openness are opportunities, choice, flexibility, empowerment, and, ultimately, freedom to learn."


"We need to stop thinking about what is not possible and replace such thinking with ideas and optimism of what is now possible!"


"Keep in mind that your original question, in many ways, assumes formal learning goals. My friend, Jay Cross, argues in his 2007 book, Informal Learning: Rediscovering Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance, that perhaps 80 percent of learning is informal."


"Academics need to step back when thinking about the open learning world and reflect on all their learning experiences and activities. Yes, they went through primary and secondary school, college, graduate school, and perhaps postdoctoral study. Those extended formal learning experiences color our perceptions of any new form of education that arises. Today we have the potential for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of new learners who might not be seeking a formally accredited degree. They can play in a global educational sandbox with anyone at any time. In fact, the premise of my World Is Open book is that with the emergence of the Web, anyone can now learn anything from anyone else at any time."


Unschoolers have been saying this for years... that learning is everywhere, access to information is right there at your fingertips, literally. Schools are like this big giant slow moving beast, eating up everything in it's path, eating up people and pooping them out. I guess while inside this beast students are expected to learn everything they need to "succeed" in life, but the reality is that most people are destined for mediocre. Schools succeed in mediocrity because they meet the needs of the middle, the boring, the average.

WOW, a nation and world of boring mediocrity... and yet, there are still pioneers in life exploring the possibilities of alternate ways of living and learning! There is hope, even if it takes 20 yrs or more into the future to get beauracracy on board with what will then be the past. Schools are still in the 1950's textbook style, rote memorization form of learning. How well has that served anyone?

Reading articles such as this really reaffirm my belief in unschooling! Stepping outside the box and learning because of intrinsic motivation to do so, not because someone tells you that you need to. The desire to learn what you need to learn, to do what you need to do, without someone else telling you what that is... that's so freeing and world opening!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Only LIFE

I really like Flight of the Chonchords right now and I'm watching them over and over when I get them from netflix.

Chamille is gearing up for Fright Town, and so am I.

Margaux is almost 8, and she's about to lose her first tooth.

John is focusing on his business.

I'm going to get a dummy head from the thrift store to take pictures of hats, they had styrofoam ones there last week.

Chamille is getting back into sewing and making clothing after a boyfriend diversion, even though he's still the boyfriend.

Margaux is really catching on to reading, she reads lots of things now.

John has been playing his big beautiful full sized keyboard that doesn't really belong to us, but that we are borrowing indefinitely.

I've been trying very hard to keep the kitchen clean, although I miss my friend Laura who made it easy to do the dishes while she chatted my ear off during her visit.

Chamille has been remaking stuffed animals and puppets, in her morbid way.

Margaux is online playing dressup games a lot lately.

John recently set up a Sponge Bob display in his office, mostly for Margaux's enjoyment.

All seems good with the world at our house. There is nothing huge to report. There is only life...

Monday, August 17, 2009

review of... Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love

I heard this interview thanks to Schuyler who pointed it out in a chat. After hearing the interview, I read the book. Just now when I tried to find the link for the radio program, I found this interview.

I'm curious what others think of these sorts of issues, so I read a large handful of the comments. I was surprised to find more than a few that shared the same thoughts as I had.

The interview had left me feeling like this mother hadn't really quite figured out what went wrong and how she could've prevented what happened. What happened was really horrible. I read the book, hoping it would delve into that aspect a bit more, but it didn't really. It ended with the mom regretting missing out on raising her 2 older daughters, and simultaneously proud of them for finally graduating from highschool and moving onward to fulfilling careers and motherhood.

The daughter that was gone the longest, lives on the other side of the US from her mother. It doesn't surprise me in the least. There was an irreconcilable divide that happened, in a large part because of the mother's inability to see outside of herself and to look deeply into her children.

I kept hoping for an answer, a real answer about how this family could have changed course, but it never came. It seems as if the mother still believes that the outcome couldn't have been prevented. It's terribly sad, almost more tragic than a mother's loss of teen daughters that ran away.

Every step this woman took was to exert control over her children, to get them to comply with her idea of what her family should look like and be like. All of it failed over and over again. She stopped seeing her children as they were and could only see them for what they were not. They were not compliant children who aspired to go to school and get good grades, they were bad children who misbehaved and didn't follow the rules.

Even if the mother couldn't see taking them out of school as an option, she could have done so much more for those girls than give them rules and try to make them comply. The girls sure saw not going to school as an option, and the very fact that their mother couldn't recognize that, shows a significant lack of understanding and communication on her part. I doubt very much that school or no school was the answer. Ditching school was more of a symptom of a larger problem, a problem that was created by the parents, their divorce, their move, their total lack of control over anything that was happening in their lives. School was just one more thing controlling them.

While I'm saddened by the loss of what they could have had, I also admire her kids for getting out there and doing what they wanted to do, despite the hardships they must have endured. To think that they all could have gotten what they wanted. The mom could have been sweeter and kinder and more adventerous, and the kids could have been able to explore the world in the way they needed to do and still have safety and comfort and home and a parent.

I'm still looking for decent mainstream parenting advice... I never seem to find any. I know I can do a google search on teens and ____________ (fill in the blank), and get advice after advice after advice, but it's almost entirely full of bad advice. And still people are surprised by life gone awry...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trusting kids



I've been thinking about trusting kids and what that means.

I trust my kids absolutely. It doesn't matter what kind of choices they make, or whether or not they make mistakes, I will still trust them.

As Chamille has gotten older, I find the trust divide very big, between the way I trust her and the way other parents trust their teens. Here's the biggest difference, in the way I see it: I trust both of my kids to do what makes sense to them, to make choices that will benefit them with the best possible outcomes.

The way that I see other parents deal with trust, is that they want to trust that their kids will do what they, the parents, want them to do. They want to trust that their kids will make "right", as defined by the parents, choices. When the kids don't, the parents lose trust in their children.

There isn't an issue at all with discipline when you trust your kids absolutely. When they make choices that you don't like, it isn't because they are deliberately disobeying you or trying to make your life as a parent difficult, it's because they saw that they were making the best choice at the time. Since kids are still learning, they don't always predict all the outcomes that may arise from their choices, and sometimes they need to pick up pieces of the aftermath, but still, it was the best choice they could make at the time.

There is no need to discipline a kid if they are never put in a position where they must choose between what they feel is right and what they feel their parents think is right. When the outcome of denying their own intincts is to do something someone else wants or get into trouble for not, they are denied the chance to learn how to make good choices for themselves. My kids aren't punished or disciplined for their choices or their actions whether I like them or not. There are no hoops to jump to be in my good graces.

When I tell other parents that I trust Chamille to make good choices for herself, I think often the assumption is that she is making all good choices that I approve of based on a set of rules and guidelines and that I trust her to follow all those rules and guidelines. In the absence of those rules and guidelines, she is making choices that directly relate and impact her and others, and because of this, she makes good choices because she weighs carefully the real outcomes of those decisions and not whether or not she will get "caught" or get "in trouble" by doing or not doing certain things.

I absolutely trust my kids, even if they make choices I wouldn't! How wonderful and freeing that is! I don't have to be on constant vigilence to make sure that my kids are complying with rules and guidelines and applying consequences for not following those rules and guidelines. I love this so much and I wish so much that other parents would practice this too! It's so wonderful to have kids that I don't have to fight with, that want to hang out with me and who confide in me about all sorts of things that most kids would never confide in with their parents.

The older Chamille gets, the more value I see in this way of trusting my kids. I see a big and wonderful difference in how beneficial this is as opposed to the more tradional approach to parenting. I can see very clearly how rules and guidelines negatively impact relationships between parents and children. Unless a child agrees with all the rules and guidelines that the parent sets forth, there will be dischord. There is no way around it. Dischord isn't a great way to live and learn happily and easily.

I like happy and easy! Like the above diagram, I want my kids to believe in that fully!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I always appreciate...

...good dance music videos! It's the same song twice, but both are equally engaging for their dance qualities!



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Margaux loves numbers!


Wait! I think I've told you this before!

But, yes, she does really love numbers...

Here's what she did yesterday:

She had a pile of pennies and was counting them. She brought them over to my desk and I assumed that she'd want me to count them for her since that is what she's always wanted when plopping down a pile of change. I start counting and she says loudly and firmly "NO! STOP! That's not how I'm counting them."

She takes all the pennies and puts them back into their little pile and starts pulling them out 2 by 2, counting in 2's as she goes. That's super cool! I told her how cool that was that she figured out this new way of counting and told her that some people call it counting by 2's.

Chamille never did that. I'm not even sure that she can count by 2's, not that it really matters much because she can count change really fast in her own way. She did that yesterday too. She had a pile of change. Okay, here I go again trying to count my children's change... and she says "NO! You are going to mess me up in my counting. I have my own way of counting." So, she quickly divides up the coins in neat little piles of $.25 and counts them really fast and is done before I even begin to count and add each coin individually!

Just in case anyone is wondering how many pennies can fit into a quart sized mason jar, I'll tell you... It's about $10, unless of course you sneak in a few silver colored ones or you overflow it a little. Last time we cashed in our penny jar, we got almost exactly $15 and we divided it 3 ways and played downtown.

Gotta love pocket change!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Something Joyce wrote about controlling kids...

**She said that she thinks this happens in most families at one time or another and that it’s either nipped in the bud quickly or it’s allowed to grow like in her case.**

I was leading up to something in reply to this but jumped up to the next point.

Some parents can use authoritarian parenting and their kids obey. Most assume it's because the parents have some special trick. Or assume their own kids are defective unlike the authoritarian parents' kids.

But whole humans don't like being told what to do. It just isn't in most of our natures. So when we see obedient children it's

1) part of their particular personality, which counters what I just said. ;-) But for some few children, it's just how they were born and not something the parents did (other than supply the genes ;-) It's not transferable through authoritarian parenting! (Some of us whole people are easy going and may even like others to make decisions. But that's not the same as liking someone else to assume control.)

2) part of how they relate to authority. It could be they're fearful (naturally or because of how they've been raised) and feel comfortable having someone else set the boundaries. Or rules feel like love to them.

3) they're good at acting. Most have probably known kids who are obedient around their parents and horrors behind their backs.

4) something else their parents are doing that counteracts the damages from authoritarian parenting. If kids feel like they're loved for who they are despite the rules and punishments, they're likely to react to rules differently than children who feel the punishments and corrections mean their parents don't like who they are and want to change them.

No matter how much a parent feels their actions are out of love, if the child isn't perceiving it that way, then the parent's intentions mean nothing. No matter how much we say we mean something different, if the child is feeling something different from our actions, the actions override the intent.

.....More from Joyce here

Friday, May 29, 2009

How kids in school really feel

i fucking hate school it feels like prison but we didn't do anything fucking wrong ugggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i hate being forced to come here i hate being forced to do work i hate being forced to play football or soccer or baseball its all so fucking stupid life should be about fun not fucking learning a bunch of shit we'll never fucking use and then getting yelled at when its to stupid to remember and we fail a test or quiz. theres no point how many times in you life are you gonna be walking down the street and someones gonna walk up to you and start asking you questions about world war 2 and you'll have too sit there and answer them and if you get one wrong you get graded down 0 no not even once cause adults have freedom of speech but do kids not really they sit here teaching us that this country was founded on freedom you know what i say to that LIKE HELL IT IS if a kid wants to have sex its wrong even if you a as careful as can be if a kid want to drink beer its illegal if a kid wants to smoke its illegal but the thing that this stupid society doesn't fucking get is that the more they say no no no the kids or teens just say well fuck you ill go behinds your back cause if you can do it i should be able to too its just stupid this country was founded on freedom like i said before yet for almost 200 years we owned blacks they were property to people, same with woman but both f them had there day to free themselves from the hard ships men put upon them they had there day now when the fuck will parents stat to understand that. No i am not for smoking and drinking and you should all know i would never do any of that i just thought id make a point.




-Cyle


p.s. Sorry about all the spelling and grammar errors but it just proves what i learn in this stupid place.

and my reply...

I love your point! Minus spelling and grammar, it's very well thought! This is why I don't put my kids in school. Kids are the ultimate minorities! They only have the rights that parents extend to them, yet, here they are, when they reach teen years, capable of reproducing... HOW DOES THAT WORK?!!!! They don't get any say whatsoever, but yet could pop out a baby today if they chose to.

You'd like The Teenage Liberation Handbook, How To Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education, by Grace Llewellyn. I haven't mentioned it before now because I think your dad would really hate me for putting these ideas in your head, but damn it, they are already there, cuz you are a smart thinking individual!
~Jenny

and then the next reply...


i really would like to read that cause your right i do really think about it all already and i love hearing other peoples views that are similar to my own tis why i like talking to you about this subject.

.... I told Cyle I'd post a recent picture of him with this school rant, which he gave me permission to put up, even though he hesitated because of the grammar and spelling stuff.

Monday, May 11, 2009

road kill and caring

Photobucket

That photo was carefully and lovingly edited by my daughter!

The other day we were talking in the car about road kill, and Chamille said that she doesn't care as much about animals that have died along side the road. I asked her what she meant by that. She said that seeing road kill always caused sadness, because of the loss of life, and that sometimes it would just eat her up inside with all that sadness.

She was telling me that she's found a way to not let it bother her so deeply and was concerned that this might be a bad thing. So we talked about the inevitability of things that happen in life, that animals die, people die, sadness and bad things do happen in life. That if we let it kill us inside, then we can't be really truly useful people to help make life better for ourselves and those around us.

We talked a great deal about this. Chamille cares so deeply for all life and the suffering of others and how unnecessary it all is that humans do harm to others. I was overwhelmed with her amazing insight on how to keep herself from feeling overwhelmed by life and what it throws at us! It is such a fine balance to care so deeply for others and life, and to have that deep caring and not get crushed by it! This beautiful daughter of mine simply amazes me all the time!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

what to do now?

After our exhausting week, I'm left wondering what's next for us!

It seems to me that this isn't going to be the last time a kid shows up at our house needing love and help and protection. It's heart breaking, and at the same time heart opening. Chamille seems to attract broken hearted kids, kids with problems, kids that need help. I know why. Chamille is a secret keeper, a person with happiness in her heart, a person that is soft and gentle and kind, a person that will listen and give good advice.

I'm a little of the same, although, I've never really been a secret keeper, Chamille is really showing me how to do that better.

So, lately, I've spent a lot of time online researching the current thoughts on teen behavior. Things that parents are reading and trying to implement because of their troubled teens. It's extremely discouraging! Website after terrible website is giving really bad information to parents with troubled teens.

It's all about control and manipulation, fixing the child, finding ways to get the child to do what you want them to do, and when they don't, punish them, take away their things, their friends, their lives, make them go to counseling, and if all else fails send them away to boot camp or boarding school. Unless of course your child has become a run away, then the advice is to try to be more communicative. It's so infuriating, I want to run down the street yelling loudly "BE NICE TO YOUR KIDS!"

It's really that simple and so hard for parents to grasp! Make your child's life wonderful and sweet and fun and full of joy, be their partner in life, help them get the things they want out of life. If parents could get this from the beginning, and be kind and gentle and loving and open and honest about communicating with their kids then perhaps kids wouldn't need to run. How do parents get to this point with their kids? Why does the burden end on the shoulders of the kids? Parents need to BE different with their kids.

The more I read, the more frustrated I am by this culture of meanness that we live in. As a culture, we are really mean to kids, especially teenagers. These "broken" kids end up at our house and I see beautiful people, where their parents see kids that they may love, but are not measuring up. Why why why? That is such a horrible place for kids to live in the hearts of their parents, to never measure up to perceived expectations. More thoughts on this here from someone else who really "gets" it!

I want to rescue them all, all the broken hearted kids and love them up and show them how special and wonderful they are.

Here is the letter that Chamille wrote to the mother of her friend that ran away after we received this lovely email, which was sent to me and the parent of another kid that had been involved...

Thank you for your thoughtful words and efforts yesterday with ***. I am sure all of you can relate to the struggles of balancing limits and freedoms with our teenagers. *** is very sorry for the turmoil and hurt she caused, I am happy she is home and we are talking. Please share with your kids that as a result of ***'s actions she will be off line (email, text & IM) for a while. I hope during this time we gain a greater understanding and appreciation for each other. Attached are some things that come to mind with what I know of my daughter and some of her strengths and struggles. One of which includes striking a balance between being a unique individual vs. rejecting social norms and average people. I am sharing this with you incase you can relate, I firmly believe we grow from every challenge we are faced with. I also want to return the offer that if any of you need/want someone to talk with I am hear and nothing shocks.
thanks again,
God Bless


(It's long and you may need tissues, I did! The woman's reply follows.)

I dont understand why you're doing all of this, your making all the mistakes a parent could make and you are trying to find someone to blame besides yourself and I'm the blame, I've been through this before, your just like Emilys dad george except he never told me what a horrible person I am to my face.
It really hurt, hearing what you said to me about *** running away, sure I can understand that your in pain about it, but cant you see that aly was in pain too? why else would she have run away?
kids dont just run away for no reason.
I dont do drugs either and I'd very much like you not to believe so, *** probably looked "stoned" to you cause she was CRYING.
because she is SAD. do you get that shes SAD?
do you even CARE?
because it really really seems like you dont care about her happiness at all.
the only reason I helped her was because she was either going to be safe with me or she was gonna go downtown where she'd be away from everyone.
she was SAFE WITH ME!
I was with her almost ALL day!
I only lied cause I wanted her to be able to trust me!
I didnt want her to run away from me too.
I really dont want her to run away, I didnt want her to run away in the first place. I tried really hard to convince her not too.
but I couldnt do that.
I cried for hours for her.
I dont want her to end up having to sell herself out with sex for food, I dont want her to be homeless.
I didnt want her to get raped, I didnt want her to be unsafe.
thats why I was with her, but you dont think I'm safe.
which I dont understand why.
Is it because of the way I look?
do you really think I'm that bad? what have I done to make you think I'm so horrible?
Up until now I dont think I've done anything wrong or to make you think badly of me.
and another thing, you dont get *** at all.
you really dont.
and I really wish you did so you could help her.
she doesnt need to go see special docters, she doesnt need to be changed.
you need to learn to accept her for who she is.
inside and out.
just because she dresses out of the "Norm" whatever the "norm" is, doesnt mean shes going to hate everyone, it doesnt mean shes gonna do drugs and have sex.
*** is one of the most anti drug and sex person I have ever met.
and I respect that about her alot.
*** is very very very smart...
and I wish you could see just how wonderful she is, and how smart she is and how kind and truthful she is, and can be. if only you would accept her, I'm sure she could trust you.
I honestly dont know what I could possibly say to make you believe how good of a person *** really truly is.
I think your too sucked into what your church has to say rather then what your daughter does, and that makes me sad.
I've cried so much for ***.
and another thing.
about what you said to me.
"Did *** tell you she has an abusive home? do you think its fair to help a child from a good home to run away?"
I think that its not fair, but shes obiviously unhappy where she is otherwise she wouldnt be running away from home, right?
nobody would run away from home to go do drugs.
thats just stupid.
and when you said it was tourter for you because of her running away.
do you think it wasnt hard for *** too?
do you think she wasnt in pain too?
I have never seen someone so sad and broken before.
I have never had someone hold onto me like that before.
and cry like she did.
I was only trying to help *** you know?
I just want her to be happy, and I would do almost anything to help her be happy. I really truly would..
I just wish you could understand that I'm not a bad person.
and another thing,
I saw this coming from the start.
I knew you hated me, I always knew it.
I could tell that you did..
most parents do you know?
they always believe alot of stuff thats untrue, like me being a bisexual child molester out to get people...
when I was only 13.
is it even possible for someone that young to do that?
It hurts so much I can barely hold myself together anymore. please think about what I said even though you probably will take everything the wrong way, I'm sorry I lied to you. I know you were worried, but you shouldnt have done what you did.
you should have given her more freedom and trusted that she would do the right thing.
you could search our whole house if you want, you will not find any drugs. I'll even give you pee tests for the rest of my life if I need to.
I dont do drugs, never have and never will.
I could go on and on about alot of things but I think I'm done for now..
I'm sorry.
I dont care how stupid this message sounds and how immature it is or anything, I'm a kid what can you expect?
):

AND THE REPLY...

Camille & Jenny,
First let me say that I do not hate either of you or think Chamille is a 'horrible person' as she says. Additionally I am not looking to blame anyone, Chamelle included, for *** running away. I know that you both care for *** and I trust that your intentions are in the right place. I have thoroughly read both of your emails and they will weigh on my heart. I hope you understand that right now I am unable to engage either of you in a discussion along these lines as my first priority is ***. Regardless of your beliefs I too love ***, appreciate her and know her as only a mother can. I am doing everything I can do to help her.


Shocking! A one paragraph note sent to both my daughter and myself after Chamille poured her heart out and I wrote a nice and detailed, full of good information, yet loving email.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Running away

Wow, what a day yesterday! A friend of Chamille's decided to run away from home. Chamille has been talking her friend out of it for a little over a week now. The problem is, that the friend decided to go ahead with her plan anyway. Her plan was dangerous and the only person she was informing was Chamille, whom she specifically asked to not inform me.

That must have been incredibly difficult for Chamille, because she generally shares everything with me, especially something big like this. Chamille offered a safe haven for her friend, because she recognized that the alternative was a really bad idea and she really cares about this friend and her safety. So, yesterday, she harbored a friend without me knowing. She let her in through a bedroom window early in the morning and let her drop off stuff and hang out for a while, then her friend left for the day. Chamille met up with her later to check on her and make sure she was safe and had food and to offer moral support.

I'm so proud of Chamille and how she handled a very difficult situation. It spiraled out of control, as these things do tend to do when you have a frantic parent involved looking for their kid. When this kid found out that I knew, she ran and became unfindable and discontinued contact with Chamille. It was very scary for all of us.

The mother of this child handled everything the wrong way and although it is understandable to not always do the right thing in a stressful situation, she really showed her true colors in all of this. Once again, Chamille was right about this person. She kept telling me, and I kept giving this mom the benefit of the doubt, thinking that surely she isn't as bad as Chamille says. It's not as if she's physically abusive, it's more that she's really extremely judgemental and controlling and really doesn't listen to her daughter at all, but she talks different than she acts.

We've become the scape goat here, but the girl is home and safe and Chamille and I have learned a lot together about helping others. In hindsight, I wish that I would've stood up to this woman more on behalf of Chamille and her friend, but not really knowing the full story, it was hard to say much. She will believe what she will believe. Her daughter may run away again if she doesn't change the way she deals with her child. Statistics show that kids will run farther and longer each time they do it. Chances are that next time she won't tell Chamille and that she won't be safe when she goes away. Right now, we are the bad guys because the mother is unwilling to place any blame on herself. Chamille has been accused of being a liar, encouraging her friend to rebel and break rules and to run away, and basically being the whole reason this kid ran away and that otherwise she would be happily and safely at home, and worst of all, she was accused of doing drugs with this friend and giving her drugs.

Despite everything that happened, I'm really proud of Chamille! She tried very hard to prevent all of it. She tried to reason with her friend, encouraged her to talk to her mother, encouraged her to not run away, and to just follow her mom's stupid rules, to get along and get through this really hard time that she's dealing with. How really difficult it must have been for her to not tell me, and to not tell me the full truth when it all came down. She wanted so much to do the right thing and in a situation like this, it's really hard to know what the "right" thing to do is. Her friend doesn't trust anybody, and Chamille showed her without a doubt that she is someone to be trusted. You can't dislike that! She is completely trustworthy, even in times of turmoil and at a sacrifice to herself.

We discussed our "don't ask don't tell" policy, and in a circumstance like this one, it's better to tell me if I ask outright. I told her that it would've come down on me instead of her if she had told me, and that is exactly as it should be. She doesn't need to be the "bad" guy, I can do that for her and protect her from that as much as possible. All in all, I think Chamille did a good thing for her friend. She really truly is a good person who really tries very hard to do what is right in all situations and I love that about my daughter and I wouldn't change that for the world!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Public transit



This is such a cool bridge, the Steel Bridge, that crosses the Willamette River! The MAX train, that the kids will be riding, is on the upper level, the regular train runs on the bottom. Both levels will lift when a large ship goes through. There is also a walk and bike path on it that connects the waterfront on the downtown westside the the waterfront on the eastside. We've done that loop together walking and exploring the piers.

Chamille is off today learning the public transit system around here. She gets to do it with friends which is totally ideal, because when I ride, I cost a heck of a lot more than they do, and I'd need to take Margaux.

She has a couple of friends that ride public transit a lot, but since we live in the suburbs, less people do around here and the busses and such run less frequently than in the city. It's ok though, there is a transit center pretty close by and I don't mind dropping her off there. It's a lot closer than most of the places I drive her to, and I can combine it with grocery shopping, which is what I did today.

Whatever happens today, it will be an adventure. Hopefully they find the right stops and such. They even get to be downtown for a bit when they go home. That should be fun for them. I just hope they don't get themselves into trouble!

Friday, April 24, 2009

morning thoughts



NOW THAT'S LIFE COMIN' AT YA!

I woke up this morning thinking about the interconnectedness of everything! I love how everything we love and know and do is all connected and at the very core is who we truly are as a person.

What got me thinking about it this time was the way the love of Pokemon inspired so many things for Chamille. I was reading about someone else, who's children's love of Pokemon inspired so many things too, yet totally different than where Chamille took it.

I absolutely love that natural learning leads to anything and everything! It's a sweet journey of surprises and excitement!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Aww Teens ditching school


I was just sitting here doing a wee bit of research on teens ditching school. It's amazing to me how much information is out there about how to get kids to do what the parents want without any regard for the kid.

I don't know why it still amazes me, but it does!

The main points are always to get a teen to comply. I did a google search on "ditching school" and came up with this outrageous article.

It seems though, as I was looking through all those google sites that came up, that this is standard fare. No wonder teens hate adults. I'm so glad that my life isn't like this!

What really struck me about this particular site was the irony about playing games. The author states that button pushing is game play and to recognize it as such, but then goes on to actually encourage parents to use "Aces" up ones sleeve for getting the upper hand of teen misbehavior. As if the basis of relationships are all game play, oh but wait, teens are clearly not people that one must build relationships with, neither are kids, for that matter. They are just subversive beings that must be controlled and must comply with all that we throw at them.

I see it so clearly that control and punishment and manipulation, shame and humiliation are what parents use to get their teens to do what they want them to do. Some parents are more subtle, some are nicer than others, and some teens are less likely to step out of line. Lurking behind all of it is disrespect for one another.

Isn't ditching school a rite of passage? The movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" shows just how important living life outside of school and rules is. Ok, well, maybe it's not a rite of passage, but still, is it really so bad to skip school here and there? Is it really a cry for attention, or is it a kid trying with all their might to escape even for just a day, the tedious boredom that school presents them?

Middle school and high school felt like a complete waste of time to me, back then, and even now. I can't seem to get past the fact that our culture is doing such a huge disservice to our teens, with all their amazing insight and energy to share and behold! Why oh why do we stuff them inside boring buildings, listening to boring teachers, doing boring tasks and busy work? The only way to keep them there is to make it mandatory and dangle an end, a degree, good grades, and severe repricussions if they don't comply.

Meanwhile kids die inside everyday from all that pressure! I'm so glad that my children are free, they are living and whole and never ever have to ditch school to feel free!

Friday, April 17, 2009

HaHaHaHaHa! I'm laughing so hard!

The last 2 days have been spent with Margaux on my lap looking at this site, all about illusions. It was sent innocently to me in a chat with Mary Lewis. Little did she know how hugely Margaux is into optical illusions! There's some great stuff there. I love my unschooling friends!

And the reason I'm laughing so hard, is because some things you can either laugh about or cry about, and well, laughing is so much better than crying and getting upset! I now have a ghetto car...

You know, I was trying sooo hard to have the soccer mom look with my minivan livin in the suburbs, then I hit a pole, yes that really nice dent was me. I can live with that, it was really dumb and it looks bad, but hey, who cares right? Half my hub caps have gone missing, so the other ones were taken off, and NOW... Cyle happened...

He closed my door just a little too hard while parked on a down hill slope, and the whole window popped out and smashed into a million pieces on the ground. He's just too darn sweet and cute to get mad at, but gosh darn it, I don't want a ghetto car with a missing window and I can't afford to replace it!

He felt really really bad about the whole thing and I had to assure him over and over that I really wasn't mad at him and that life happens. I mean really, would it do any good to be upset and mad about it? It wouldn't change the fact that I still no longer have a window! And honestly it could've happened to anyone, and I'm glad it didn't happen to Margaux because it would've hit her on the head.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

what Margaux just said...

Crazy I know, 2 posts in one day!

She said to me; 7 + 7 is 14 and I know that because 8 + 8 is 16, so 2 down is 14, which is also 7 + 7 because you take away a number from each 8.

She's playing Bratz rock angelz PS2 game right now. She's been playing it for the last 3 hrs. She's reading most of it on her own. Who would've thought she'd be doing calculations in her head at the same time?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keeping life interesting

Sometimes it's really the small things that keep life going! I went to the craft store yesterday to buy hair clips and safety pins. Chamille really needed something to occupy herself with. She's been making the coolest hair things lately! She uses scraps of fabric and puts bows together and sews them onto hair clips. Here's a picture of one...
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It's the same bow that Hello Kitty wears...
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and another one, with a store bought addition to it...
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Safety pins, of course, can be used in so many ways! Here's a picture of one thing she's made with pins...
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She's redoing clothing with pins too, but I don't have any pictures. I bought the pins at the fabric store, they are the heavy duty kind, so I can put them through the wash!

We buy so many safety pins, it's not even funny! They get eaten by our pin monster that lives in our house, I swear it's true!

And of course, there is always beading to be done...
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

The boyfriend



I had to be quick to catch this shot before they (meaning Chamille) wouldn't cooperate with the picture taking...

This is Chamille's pink haired boyfriend. Aren't they sweet?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New friends for Chamille

It's very exciting around here lately! Chamille has finally found friends! It's been a while, looking and hoping and wishing for some like-minded others.

We've had our house infiltrated by teenagers and it's been loads of fun, even if they eat all our food! I love my kiddos so much, and it makes me happy when they are happy. Chamille is definitely happy!

Margaux has even found friends as well, and hers are unschoolers too.

I can't even stress enough how wonderful it is to support my kids and help create a happy existence for them, so that, even when they are down, they never get too far down and can pick themselves up because they know that soon life will bring happy things their way. When those happy things come along, they get to be doubly happy and it's sooo awesome to behold!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The many faces of my kids









I have awesome kids! Chamille does some cool things with make-up, hair, which she cuts and colors and creates herself, and clothing, which she often makes, like the shirt in the picture with pink hair.

Margaux got an American Girl doll for Christmas this year and it has almost exactly the same color of hair, which is cool, since Margaux's hair color is very unique.

Chamille's a good photographer, she took the picture of Margaux in a little photo shoot she set up. Margaux wasn't being a very cooperative client, but Chamille did manage to get a few nice shots and this is one of them.

Lately, life has been all about social opportunities. It seems to take up all of our time. It's nice to have friends! Chamille was without a group of friends for so long, and only a handful of nice friends that she was rarely able to see for various reasons on their end. I don't know how long these friendships will last, but for now, she's got some nice friends, not many, but enough to keep her content.

She's about to turn 15, exactly one week from today and she has yet to study her driver's manual, but she's still planning on taking the test next week. We shall see, there's no rush!

Margaux has been spending a lot of time with one of the neighbor kids. I agreed to watch this girl until the end of the school year. I have mixed feeling about it, mostly with the way it will dominate our scheduling, but Margaux seems happy to have her here. Getting up early in the morning is fine, it's the being here at 3 o'clock every day to pick her up from school that will be the hard part. Her regular sitter moved somewhat suddenly and her mom wasn't able to find another sitter. I watched her during spring break, and it was enough for me to decide that I'm not going to do this during the summer. It wasn't bad, just too much for Margaux to have the same kid here everyday all day long. So, just a few months of before and after school care. Both of Chamille and Margaux told me that it was okay to do this for the neighbor's family (I wouldn't have agreed to it otherwise!).

Margaux and I have been playing Nancy Drew pc games a lot lately, we are quite into them and sometimes we play all day long. That is the extent of newness right now, for Margaux. She's also starting to read, for real reading, which is really fun to see.

In other news, a boy likes Chamille, and Chamille may like him too, it's too early to tell. I had an interesting conversation with him, in which he said that Chamille was waaay smarter than he initially gave her credit for, and that it shows if you talk to her for a while, in part because she uses a higher level of vocabulary than most kids their age, and the things that she talks about are interesting and thoughful (I'm paraphrasing a little because I'm not remembering the exact words). He thinks VERY highly of her and said so. I don't know him very well yet, we shall see...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Being authentic with your kids

While perusing a local paper, I found an article about what to do when, as a mom, you get angry with your kids. It led me to this article.

I read the whole thing thinking for sure there would be at least one good answer. I got all the way to the end and the best answer was to punish your child by removing a priviledge.

The whole time I kept thinking, well, the answer is obvious, you treat your child like a human being. Be totally authentic. I thought, well, if one of my kids did such a thing as tell me that I'm an a**hole in public or even in private, my very first response would NOT be anger, I'd probably be hurt and say so. My very next response would be to find out why my child felt that way towards me and work to find a way to change that.

The other day we were in the grocery store, yeah yeah, another of those yucky parent in the store moments. Anyway, the mother was berating her kids wants for certain foods, after the kids had asked very nicely, in the "could we get this?" sort of way. It was shocking, to hear the mom's response, it was so harsh and so cruel, it left me feeling physically ill with an icy cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had to stop and breathe and gain calm before I could continue shopping. It helped enormously that my kids were there with me, and I could look at them and be nice to them.

I was going to say something to this mom, knowing that she might've hit me, that's how angry she seemed, but her kids did it for me, loudly and clearly. One of them started crying, and one of them told her she sucked and the other one agreed. Sometimes kids are totally spot on when they tell their parent such things.

So, in light of the article, I kept thinking about how totally far away from any of those suggested solutions we are with our kids! They are real people, with real feelings, with real ideas, and real minds and voices and if for some reason I forget that, I SHOULD be reminded, even harshly in public!

I seriously can't imagine one of my kids doing something of this nature, but I've seen kids do it, and it always reminds me of how wonderful it is to be authentic in my interactions with my kids. It isn't me, the parent, vs, them the kids, it's US, working together. If one of my kids is angry towards me and says something unkind, chances are, there is something to it, usually me acting or behaving in such a way as to warrant such a claim.

It's interesting to me how parents get to that place, like in the article, where they think everything is about them, that somehow that other person standing before them, their child, doesn't really count in the moment. That the only thing that really matters in such times is saving face and preventing any other such embarrassments from happening in the future. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed if I only did things to save face and to prevent "incidences" from occuring.

It never ceases to amaze me how little, parents in general, think of their kids as actual human beings and treat them with that in the forethoughts of their actions.