Abundance

You know how we get a person that does not hoard what they have, one that shares openly with others, one that cares about how others near him feel?

Abundance. A person raised without the fear of having what he has taken away (not forcing a child to share) does not hoard what he has. A person that is raised around openly sharing parents (when they ask you give) shares openly with others. A person that is raised being respected, one that isn’t told they’ll get something to cry about, one that isn’t shamed for being scared and forced to face it, one that is touched, held, caressed, and loved even when they are angry, sad, or frustrated, ends up caring how others feel.

The opposite holds true as well. Force a child to share his toy and he will hold tighter and hide what he has. Tell a child “No you can’t have a bite of my ice cream or a sip of my coffee.” “You sleep over there in your bed.” “This is my living room, go play in your playroom.”, will grow up to be a person that does the same to the people around him. Bully a child into submission to your will, to do what you want him to do, through violence or the threat of violence, and he will become a bully to those smaller than him too.

Ask and accept a no.

Give what you can.

Be kind and accepting.

Fill their cup and they’ll have plenty for others when they are ready.

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Private Does Not Have to Mean Expensive

I have to get something off my chest. It’s about what education is and what makes home education work. It starts with money. Education is not about buying the right stuff. A good education is not expensive. I’ll admit that in the past, people were limited educationally because they couldn’t get their hands on books or see outside their own farm or neighborhood, but that just isn’t the case in the United States today. We have public libraries in every city and an internet connection is a must in every home. Yes, there may be exceptions, but I’m talking generalities here.

The most important thing you need to educate your own kids is to be able to be at home with them. If you have a partner that can support you and the kids while they are young, you have a huge advantage over any expensive education system. If you have a vehicle and gas to get you around, you’re sitting pretty!

How can you give your kids a practically free education? Again, it starts with you. Educate yourself and take your young children along for the ride. That doesn’t mean go back to college! It means read an article online, open a book, visit a museum, watch a movie, or have a discussion. Create and cultivate in yourself the life long learner first. Do it right in front of your family. Your kids will follow suit in their own way.

Go to the library and check out any books you and the kids like and read them. Don’t study them, just read them! Go the park and explore. Walk around your neighborhood. The grocery store, the post office, the bank, etc. are all potential field trips when you look at them like a child would. Instead of rushing through the grocery store with your list, involve the kids with making the meal plan, the list, and the budget. A couple of dollars of their own to spend at the grocery store or save for the future is a lesson plan all of itself. Actually working with money goes a lot farther than talking about it. Go through the store and answer all the questions they have, have them find things, substitute things, and explore the store like you’ve never been there.

When we allow our kids to explore their world, if we can be patient and quiet while they do so, they get so much out of it. They become more interesting people. And we can see the world in a whole new way. We can do this everywhere we go.

When my boys were very little, the regional park was amazing to them. We spent hours there every week. We loved amusement parks but rarely went inside. They thought the shopping area, pond, and Independence Hall was Knott’s Berry Farm. And Downtown Disney, its fountains, people, shops, and hotels was the best part of Disneyland. We went to beaches, parks, free museum days, all over Southern California. Small local museums are usually only a couple of dollars donation and we always brought a picnic lunch for all of us. My sons wanted lunch boxes like school kids, so they each had one with their name on it and a backpack to carry it in.

My point is that you don’t need a packaged curriculum, the monthly craft/science box, the big organized field trips, or extra-curricular classes to give your kids a great education. You just need to be with them, be patient, and help them explore the world around them safely. We unschooled the whole time, but even if you want to home educate in a more traditional way, there are tons of free resources on the internet. You may have to piece it together and you may have to open your mind to some unconventional ways of doing things (i.e. Mad Libs instead of grammar workbooks), but it is very possible to do this on your own without the state school system breathing down your neck.

I always see private home education as an entrepreneurial thing, a do-it-yourself, be your own boss, kind of thing. What are the benefits of private education? No state standards to keep up with, no grade levels, no mandatory number of days, no testing. That’s just the start. To me, the best thing I got out of it was a sense of self-reliance. I second guessed myself all the time, especially when my sons weren’t behaving the way I thought they should. I’m lucky I had an amazing partner that could see outside my day to day life and remind me that many of my perceived “problems” were just parenting/relationship adjustments. It had nothing to do with school.

I don’t begrudge people the choice to use the public charters to homeschool. If the education the public schools are giving is what you want, without the crowd control and classroom bullies, then charters would be fine for you. But if you want something different, if you want the education outcome to be different than the seniors graduating this year, then there are other options out there.  Private education is feasible, even on a tight budget.

An Obstacle?

I sometimes worry that I may be a tad insane. Probably not in a bad way, but just a tad on the deranged side. One part of me wants to reach out and offer what I have, the other part of me is afraid the offer will be misunderstood and rejected. What to do? I’ll be praying for clarification, although my prayers so far have led to one pointer after another into an area littered with landmines. I keep looking in that direction and thinking, “I’ll just pray for guidance again.”, like rolling the dice over and over again to get the results you’re looking for. I am not equipped for this kind of stress, but I know the Lord is my strength. I’m just having trouble seeing my way to leaning on Him fully.

Two things came to mind yesterday as I moved through a stressful day, tentatively putting my foot out into the waters of our local homeschool group.

The first was “The Obstacle is The Way.” It’s a book on my reading list and part of the Stoic philosophy I’ve been thumbing through for the past year. I found a very nice (short) video that lays out the idea and shared it to the group. You can find it on YouTube HERE. I’m going to be watching it several times over the weekend and the book has already been moved to the top of the reading list.

Also, just before I go to bed each night I read from “The Daily Stoic.” Last night this was the page I read to myself three times before turning it over on my nightstand.

“Seneca’s advice to someone studying the classics is to forget all that. The dates, the names, the places – they hardly matter. What matters is the moral. If you got everything else wrong from The Odyssey, but you left understanding the importance of perseverance, the dangers of hubris, the risks of temptation and distraction? Then you really learned something. We’re not trying to ace tests or impress teachers. We are reading and studying to live, to be good human beings – always and forever.”

I have a feeling that this is what I’ve been working towards, “to be a good human being,” and to ignore the call to share what I’ve learned, to mentor others wanting to give independent home education a try, would be to hide my treasure. Two things have changed my life. Jesus and home education, specifically leadership education and the principles of unschooling. They are my passions and I want to share them. I’m just afraid of looking crazy. As my sons constantly remind me, I can’t avoid that so I might as well have fun with it.

The Park

Sitting here with my laptop at the regional park while the boys try out a new trail on their mountain bikes. I already went for a walk and got bored. I’ve read my books and written in my journal. Here I sit, in the truck. You’d think I’d sit outside under a tree, but that’s less comfortable. There are creepy crawlies there that would draw my attention. I just can’t seem to relax. I’m happier in my pretty truck with the seat all the way back and my bare feet up in the window. The breeze is blowing through the trees and I can hear a few families nearby. The sounds of the city are intermingled with the chattering of squirrels, the staccato of woodpeckers, and various bird calls.

I’m glad we moved away from here. This used to be the only place I could escape the city streets and we’d come here often when the boys were little. The train ride around the park, an ice cream cone, and a walk around the pond was enough to wear them out. Sometimes we spend hours in the zoo looking at all the local animals. We read all the signs, fed the goats, and watched the animals do their thing. We’d play on the playgrounds and climb trees. We’d bring bikes and ride the trail that went around the whole park, stopping every hundred yards to check out something exciting on the side of the road; a nest, a bee hive, a dead squirrel. We’d sit in the shade and just watch. We’d sit beside the pond and try to get the ducks or peacocks to come up to us by sitting very still with a cracker in hand.

When my boys were young we had an “adventure backpack.” In it we kept a pair of binoculars, a cool hand-held microscope, a bandana with animal tracks on it, a few pamphlets about birds and animals native to our area, some snacks, and various other things we believed would be best to have on any adventure. There were always a couple of sketch pads and pencils. Occasionally, I had to clean it out when it became heavy with rocks, acorns, and other treasures.

I was reminded of all the fun we had when we came here because of the families I saw as I walked around the park. The whole train was filled with people, the zoo parking lot was full, a few paddle boats were on the pond, several families walked along the path together or rode bikes on the road. It’s not crowded by any means, but it’s busy for a Friday morning. It is still summer yet. When school starts in the next couple weeks it will be odd to see any children here on a weekday. It makes me sad.

For us, this was their “school.” Wait. It wasn’t school at all, it was real education. There wasn’t a moment they weren’t learning something very important and compared to that time spent here, school would have been a waste. A “field trip” here wouldn’t have been the same. Even having friends with us most days would have ruined it. There was something magical going on here every week. I had an inkling of it while it was happening. This vague joyous feeling that something wonderful was being built.

One day sticks out in my mind as extra special. There was a day when my boys wanted to ride their bikes very far, so we brought the bikes here and we set out to make the loop along the dry river bed. I told them to go as far as they liked but to stop at any forks in the road so we wouldn’t get separated. They were pretty young and new at riding bikes. I could still catch up fairly quickly. Off they went, full speed, their little blond heads under helmets bobbing up and down as they peddled their hearts out. It’s a long straight trail, so I could see them pretty far. I walked as fast as I could without running.

About ten minutes into the walk, they disappeared around the bend. I grew up at this park, so I know where things lead. This was about where the trails split; to the left, up the river bed and down into a wash, to the right, down into the parking lot and some tall trees. I was about twenty feet behind them as they made the turn. I quickened my pace. Would they stop at the fork? Or would they be so distracted by the “call of the wild” and continue up the trail or seek the refuge of the trees?

As I came around the bend myself a minute later, there they were, leaning over the handle bars of their bikes talking like two old friends. My son looks up, “Mom, I see NO forks but I didn’t want to get lost, so we waited here for you to catch up!” It never occurred to me that they didn’t know what a fork in the road was! “That way!” my younger son yells, pointing to the trees. It was getting hot and one mile of riding was enough for them.

We headed for the trees, the boys pushing hard on their small bikes across the grass. When we reached them, they threw the bikes down and collapsed on the grass spread eagle on their backs and I joined them. We lay in the shade looking up at the tree tops. “What kind of trees are these?” asks my older son. “They are eucalyptus trees,” I say. “Koala bears?” my younger son says. “Koala bears eat the leaves, but I don’t think we have koala bears at the park.” He stares up at the leaves hoping to see a koala bear. A woodpecker lands on the tree and begins to peck away. “What’s he looking for, Mom?” “Bugs,” I tell him. “The woodpeckers peck a hole and then put an acorn in it. Then they come back later and eat the bugs that have started to eat the acorn. They are acorn woodpeckers.” They attempt to make the same sound as the woodpecker and laugh hysterically. We break into the backpack for a bag of crackers and an apple. I tell them we should probably head home soon, Dad will wonder what happened to us if we don’t get home in time for dinner!

While I’m putting the bikes into the back of our truck, the boys scramble to climb into the backseat. Both ask for juice boxes as I buckle their seat belts. Driving across town back to the house, I’m thankful we’ve chosen a slower life and can enjoy days like this.

Today, as we came to the hill near the entrance of the park, my sons well into their teens, their mountain bikes loaded in the back of our truck, my younger son lights up when he sees the hill of brush and the sign to the park. “Now I remember this place!” He’s never one to be very wordy or excitable, so the outburst is a sure sign of nostalgia and excitement. We pay the entrance fee and pass by the ball fields, “Mmm…grass.” my older son comments. He’s always been a fan of grass, something we don’t see much of in the desert at home. I’m not sure they will want to make the one hundred mile drive out of the desert to ride here too often, actually, I’m hoping they don’t, but it was worth the drive today, just to remember it, just to see the look on their faces as they reminisce about their childhood. It makes my heart happy to know they already look back and think how great life has been so far.

Learn Nothing Day – 2017

My goal for the next thirty days is to write every day for an hour AND post it. So, if you think these posts come a tad random, that is the reason why. They are! I’ll keep them all tagged “dailies” for future reference.

Today is “Learn Nothing Day”, an event created by Sandra Dodd in an effort to show people that it is not possible to learn nothing on any given day. It does not matter if you are in school or out, in front of the TV, hiking in the woods, or quietly meditating on a beach. It doesn’t matter if you are new Mom rocking a newborn in front a fireplace or a old Dad mowing the lawn on a sunny day. Even if you are all alone in the world, you will learn something every day. It’s unavoidable! No one succeeds on “Learn Nothing Day.” We are all losers no matter how hard we try.

In honor of that day, I’ll fill you in on what I’ve already learned today and it’s only 9:15 A.M.! I’ll go backwards from the latest to the earliest pieces of the day.

I just learned that all black and green teas are “anti-inflammatory”. No, they don’t calm down arguments, or maybe they do. Can you argue over a cup of tea? But they can reduce the inflammation in your body that cause all kinds of disease. I’m glad I’m a fan of iced tea with my lunch and a hot cup of hot oolong in the afternoon.

About an hour before that, when I logged onto Facebook to see what my friends were up to (it’s currently raining and I just know all my fellow desert dwellers will be reveling in it), I was reminded that it WAS “Learn Nothing Day” and posted to remind everyone to celebrate. I also posted a link for those that may have no idea what I’m talking about. This one http://learnnothingday.blogspot.com/

So now THEY have already learned something in reading my post! Ha ha! Share the love!

During my “Christian Basics” online class, I read this question, “Will unbelievers have a second chance to believe in Jesus after He returns?” This has always been a tough one. The answer in their book is no, but maybe. There is no specific reference to whether or not they will, there is only conjecture and inference. My personal belief is yes and I really can’t know. When I was a very new believer I couldn’t accept that God would condemn all those in the world who had never heard of Jesus. What about all those who have died before Jesus came to save the world, those who have lived isolated and never heard of Him, those who have felt lied to and betrayed by humans in this world and never found anyone they could trust that would lead them to the truth? I think at Judgment Day, something will happen, something just and good, something we cannot understand now and will in the future. I will trust that God has a plan and that all is never lost for the innocent.

In my bible study by Beth Moore, called “Entrusted”, I learned something marvelous. “The church of the present – comprised of every Christian on planet Earth – has a rock-solid foundation but it doesn’t have walls.” Many would disagree with this statement but I’d say that this is the way the church, the body of Christ, should be. Hold on to that for a moment. “The body” is porous, it lets in and out impurities and nutrition, it is not isolated. It lets in and keeps what it needs to live and grow. It gets rid of that which it does not. So we should be as the body of Christ. We stand on a firm foundation of the love of God, but we do not hide ourselves away, isolated and stagnant. We breathe in the world around us, let it in, and let it wash over us. We keep that which we need, new members, love, understanding, patience, etc. And we let go of the ugly and profane. It’s a beautiful picture. The more I study the bible from other people’s perspectives, the more I find that it fits so beautifully in this life.

My Great Books of the Western World reading list put me to Lavoisier’s Chemistry this month…ugg…science. I’m so not a fan of chemistry and mathematics. I wasn’t looking forward to this. I think I’ve posted about that before. But this is pretty awesome. I won’t get into all the details just yet since I’m saving it for when I finish and review it, but let’s just say the writing is clear and easy to read and doesn’t leave you bogged down in too many details. Today I learned that people used to know about acids but not where they came from, just what they do. He developed a way of purposely creating them, which he explains in this book, and renaming them according to the element they came from. Sulfurous and sulfuric acid come from sulfur. -ous means less saturated with oxygen, smelly and more stable. -ic means saturated with oxygen, stronger, solid, and odorless. And that muriatic acid still holds that name because they didn’t know where it came from. I’m not sure if they know now or what. I guess I’d have to google it but I’m not learning anything today!

My day started with a cup of coffee and “The Question of God” by Dr. Nicholi, Jr. This is a very good book if you’re interested. From a Christian or Atheist point of view, it compares Freud’s view of the world to C.S. Lewis’. Both were influential in their time, both came from religious families and became atheist. Freud never returned to God and Lewis did. It’s fascinating to hear them compared, both what they wrote and how they actually lived. I was reading the chapter on sex this morning and found this nugget. “Lewis goes beyond Freud to argue that people who control their sexual impulses understand their sexuality more than people who fail at controlling them. ‘Virtue – even attempted virtue – brings light; indulgence brings fog.’” Freud argued that we need to not hide sexuality, we should embrace it. I’d tend to agree. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to control ourselves. As with any passion, it’s good for some things, not so good if over-indulged. Lewis once told a story about a society that sold tickets for “strip tease” sort of act where a person came out with a covered plate and slowly lifted the lid to reveal a piece of bacon. The crowd would go wild with excitement and people would hurt each other to get to it and keep it from others. I think we’d all agree that something had gone horribly wrong with their feelings about food. The same goes for sex. Something has gone terribly wrong today. I’m not sure what the fix is really. I’d rather not go back to Victorian era values of women and sex, but this view of “anything goes” does not seem to be creating a healthier and happier society either.

That brings be to the start of my day. It’s nearly ten o’clock now and I wonder what else I’ll have to try not to learn by the end of the day!

The Next Generation

“Generation Z” that’s what they are calling kids that are under 18 right now. My kids. Hmm…at first I was a bit taken aback by the idea of a “Generation Z”. What does that mean? It sounds so final. What could possibly come after Z? But then I had a spark of hope. Is this the last generation to live separately from the other generations? Will we begin to go back to a time when children were raised by their parents along with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles in the home instead of an institution? Could this be the generation that changes how we live in the United States? It’s not the end of the world when things change, you know. We didn’t use to have this huge wall between generations of people. We didn’t use to live in a world where children lived separately from adults most of their lives and the elderly lived separately from the working adults. We used to all be interdependent with each other, helping and supporting each other as cohesive families. I think life has gotten much darker and scarier since we started this separation. Maybe this “Generation Z” will be the one the ends that. I think they may be the generation that brings us back together and forward into a much brighter and loving world.

Book Use

I’ve a lot to write about but I got a bit behind this past week and haven’t been putting aside time to write each day. I get sidetracked by life and then give up on everything for a bit. I’m back and I’m not going to beat myself up about taking a break from my routines. I’m just going to go back to it, like the breath during meditation.

I started reading “The Anatomy of Peace” yesterday. I read it four years ago and was pulled to the title on my shelf again, so here I am. I’m so glad I am. The book was an assignment when I was taking a “Classic Mom’s” online class and I really liked it. When I pulled the book off the shelf again I couldn’t have told you what it was really about. As I started to read it, it all came back to me. I’ve loved reading the notes I made in the book last time I read it. In all my books I mark them where I find something interesting and write about it on a folded piece of copy paper I keep in the book as a marker. That paper goes into a file when I’m done reading the book and I write the date I read the book on the inside cover. If I want to see my notes, I just need to go to the file and find it. I’m glad I did this time! Much of what I’m reading now I wouldn’t have been able to tell you was in the book but I have incorporated many of the ideas into my life the past several years and now the ideas are fairly obvious to me. When I read it the first time, I tended to scoff at it when I started the book but could see where the ideas would be helpful by the time I finished it and the discussion afterward.

The basic premise is looking at people as if they are people, not objects to be manipulated. When someone drives up behind you and then passes you, do you wonder where that person is off to in such a hurry and hope they get there safely? Or do you shake your head and be angry that they made you slow down before the turn? Are the humans that live in your house with you people with their own needs, wants, and desires, separate from yours? Or are they tools to get the housework done and boost your ego? The best part of the book is that it isn’t written like a typical help book, with diagrams and inspiring quotes. It’s written as a story about a group of people helping their children through some tough times and getting through some of their own. I love reading it not only because of the useful message but because it has reminded me that the books I read every day aren’t lost just because I can’t remember the details, or even that I’ve read them sometimes. Their message has changed my heart and mind, and I use those ideas even though I can’t point out where I got them. It makes me think of what my children learn and use every day without anyone teaching them and making them take tests to prove what they have learned.