Thursday, June 29, 2006

Melt Down

Well, it finally happened. I just overloaded and had an honest to goodness, good old-fashioned melt down. It was no fun at the time, but I do feel better coming out on the other side. Being a young grandmother is no picnic. Some of the joys of grandparenting get thwarted. It's difficult to just be the loving grandmother that has grandkids over once in a while to explore and play with when you are caring for them full-time. Honestly, it is very much like having a new child of your own, or in my case two of them.

Please don't take me wrong. I love my grandchildren. I just wasn't ready, nor was I planning, to have more children. I was very much looking forward to this part of my life. It should be a little laid back right now. The oldest four are young adults, and the youngest three are basically teens. That is when life would have naturally let up, and it did. That is until I had grandchildren. No rest for the weary.

The phase I am in right now is kind of like being a mom with children and a new baby. I am desperately trying to find balance. It is a little more complex being that I am trying to find time for my children while caring for my grandchildren. I really don't want to leave anyone out. I desperately want to make time for everyone. It is tough.

Fortunately I have persevered, and things are starting to settle down. I have learned to go back to doing things a little more like when my children were younger. I shop bigger so that it lasts longer, meaning that I get to shop less frequently. I keep a list of things to do and plan meals ahead of time. I cook in big batches in order to store some ahead for busy days. I keep tons of produce on hand for something quick and easy to nourish my body when there just is no time to eat. I find activities that I like to do and do them. I read plenty of books. Reading really feeds my soul. The biggest thing I learned was to ask for help when I need it.

One thing I am looking forward to is doing my first Imagination Tribe project. I signed up for two of them. I will be creating recipe pages to share in a book that will be created for everyone for the holidays. I will also be creating something for the Day of the Dead project. I might do a memorial of some sort for my dad. He passed away April Fool's Day of 2005. He died of male breast cancer. I spent a good year of my life caring for him. It was a long, emotional ride.

Today I have planned to do a lot of cooking which I really enjoy. Five pounds of black beans are currently soaking in preparation for the crockpot this evening. We are going to put up most of them in the freezer. I would like to can them, but I do not have a pressure canner yet. We are making four dozen muffins, banana and blueberry, for future use. I will also be roasting several cloves of garlic to keep in the refrigerator. Is there anything better than fresh roasted garlic to add to your cooking? It has to be my favorite thing to have on hand. Adrian and I plan to bake cookies as well, chocolate chip and peanut butter. We are also going to make some different salad dressings from scratch. I will be putting a recipe section up in the near future to share our favorites along the way.

Today I will live in the moment. I will find the joy in everything I do. I will take time to acknowledge the beauty around me. I will stop to smell the flowers. I will take my time and not rush myself. I will savor the day.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I have been reading a lot of discussion on Unschooling Basics about what a choice really is. It has me thinking a lot about the choices I make on a daily basis. Reflection is good and often therapeutic. The realization that we ALL really have a choice about most everything we do is extremely freeing. That is, IF we let the realization free us of our life learned misconceptions.

In thinking about my personal journey to unschooling I am forever finding myself thankful. At the same time I am often saddened that the people around me, outside of my immediate family, that I truly love and care about are blind to the possibilities around them. Becoming free of societal binds makes one, at least it makes me, want to spread the word to everyone I come in contact with. Unfortunately, the majority of those around us are closed minded and "brainwashed" by the ways of the world and are not capable of grasping the mere idea of total and complete freedom. It is like "we" want to be controlled. Unlearning such a thing takes a tremendous amount of dedication.

Honestly, I really do not remember how I discovered unschooling, but I am SO thankful I did. Even though I didn't become enlightened soon enough to bless all of my children with such a luxury, I am able to embrace life more fully and ultimately everyone in our family benefits. One of the key factors of the unschooling lifestyle, as I understand things, is to "teach" by example. I am elated to be able to set a much different example now than I would have had I never discovered unschooling.

I am still struggling with aspects of unschooling, not in theory, rather it is the practice that is a challenge. Sometimes it is easy to think of veteran unschoolers in an idealistic way. I have come to realize that everyone has their struggles no matter their spot in the journey. This gives me power. The knowledge that everyone makes mistakes, everyone has weaknesses and strengths, everyone needs to apologize now and again, everyone perseveres through dedication, makes the occasional speed bump easier to navigate.

Thanks to the above mentioned message board discussion I can continue to become more aware. It has become evident to me that very often we can learn MUCH more by paying attention to our own actions and feelings as opposed to keeping those around us under a microscope. What do I want to do today? Will the world come to a screeching halt if I don't do the dishes? Does it matter to me that the bathroom hasn't been cleaned all week? What about dinner? Do I need to make it? Would life be so much more terrible if the kids fended for themselves tonight? If it matters to me enough that I take care of whatever needs taking care of, well that's okay. BUT, it is definitely unfair of me to assume that others around me care as much about the things that I care about and expect them to do what I deem important. Everyone should have the freedom to decide for themselves what they hold pressing to their heart.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Why not?

I have been wondering a lot lately about what motivates our decisions, especially when it comes to our children. When pondering what our answer should be, before we say, "NO", we should ask ourselves, "Why not?". It has become my opinion that a lot of time the answer of "no" is given because it is seen as the easy answer. It really requires nothing of us. "No" is simple and limiting. It limits activity and relationships. "No" is boring.

As an unschooler it is my duty to seek, "Yes", as pleasant and completely doable. "Why not?" It's much more fun to say, "Sure!", or "Of course!", or "Certainly!", or "Have fun!". An affirmative answer is much more pleasant and induces activity. Why is it that society tends to lean toward the negative rather than the positive?

In a consious effort I have been saying, "Yes" in some form to nearly every so-called request made by my children. To me, there rarely is a legititmate reason to say otherwise. We are all happier and closer for it. Sometimes I use myself as a buffer to those less positive. I find my heart aching for the child of the parent that gives, "No" as a standard answer with no real thought to why. How sad for the both of them. Can such a parent even begin to wrap their brain around the consequences of such a lifestyle?

I believe it my responsibility as an unschooling parent to set a positive example for all those around me. I feel it my duty to give advice wrapped in unschooling wisdom no matter the lifestyle of the asking person. We never know what little thing we say or do may have a tremendous impact on the life of someone else. Even though the effects may not be seen immediately, words and ideas can be built upon over time and experience. Someone has to lay the first brick.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Time seems to be of essence lately. The past two weeks or so have really brought about challenges for my husband, Pat, and I. Things are rapidly changing around here, and we seem to be digging our heels in the sand in defiance. Is there really some way to allow change and maintain our level of freedom and sanity?

With seven children and three very new grandchildren life is anything but boring. Currently, I am a mother to three unschooling "teens", Amie-16, Andrew-14 and Adrian-12. Anyone that knows anything about unschooling knows that this is by no means a "sit-down" job. I don't mean to imply that I view it as work, but it does require an exceptional amount of physical and emotional energy. As if that alone is not enough on one's plate I also care for two of our three grandbabies on a full-time basis.

Watching Harmony is a bit of a challenge, but she does not anchor me since she is VERY mobile at the ripe, young age of 10.5 months. Dustin on the other hand is proving to be somewhat challenging in my day since he is a mere two months old. This requires the planting of one's butt to an immobile surface for lengthy feedings and frequent diaper changing. Infants are "easy" since their needs are simple, but it does tend to keep one from accomplishing much at the same time.

This week will just be my second week with Dustin. The days will start earlier and last just as long. I'm sure things will come easier as he ages and we get more and more used to each other. Maybe I will get more tolerant of my late nights with Harmony and early mornings with Dustin. In the meantime, I need to make it work for everyone. It is my goal that no one gets left out in this process.

To achieve a greater sense of "harmony" for myself I am aggressively de-cluttering my home, creating creative areas in my surroundings, and trying to find creative outlets. So far I have created a "library", a creativity shelf, a sewing center is in the works, planted a productive flower and vegetable garden and a nice sitting spot outside for quiet contemplation. My environment is becoming more and more serene, something VERY difficult for me to find in my urban dwelling. My goal of creating a rural atmosphere is coming to fruition.

Despite my exhaustion I am finding myself more and more elated. The expended energy is well worth the effort given the fruits of my labor. I am learning to go with the flow and enjoy the process of self-discovery.


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