Tuesday, March 25, 2014

the hidden harm in following your interests

I could spend all day taking photos, playing guitar, messing around in my barn...or writing. I literally could. Those are my interests.

The kitchen table...when I'm doing my thing. ;)

Right now, my kids could spend all day video gaming. If there is a new game they are particularly interested in, the sun could be blotted out by a ship full of alien pirates and the boys would never know until their fingers froze to their keyboard.

The boys, zoned into their thing.

So is that what we should spend all day doing? Following our interests?

As homeschoolers, as unschoolers, as interest-led learners, we all have time to follow those interests. We have the ability to pour ourselves into the things we love in a way that others without the same amount of time just can't.

And that's a good thing, right?

Maybe. If we are careful.

Learning what you are interested in, and spending the day doing what you love is happy and fulfilling and gorgeous. And yet, ironically so, it has the potential to turn us into isolated little beings that fail to see what else is out there.

Sometimes, that "what else is out there" is our family.

You know what happens. The kids are deeply involved in Something Kids Love and so Mom or Dad get involved in Something Parents Love. The kids take a break from what kids love and see Mom and Dad are busy with what parents love so the kids move onto Something Else That Kids Love. Mom and Dad see the kids are still busy and continue on in their thing that parents love...

Not a terrible thing on the surface. And not a terrible thing short term. But long term? When the above becomes the normal? Hmmm...

What happens when we end up as people in a family who share the same address but live such separate lives of what each person wants to do that we don't look any different than the families we were trying to distinguish ourselves from?

If I'm honest with you, I will admit we've occasionally been there. Done that. Don't care to return.

I think its one of the dirty secrets of homeschooling. Having the time to adopt a sort of tunnel vision for our own interests and forgetting that the deeper we dive into what we ourselves are interested in, the more our lives become about ME and less about US.

A recent conversation with a mom revealed her frustration with feeling like her three kids had defected to being isolated countries in a giant ocean she was trying to hang out in and she really wasn't sure what her role was anymore. Were they a family? What part of the constant separateness (caused by everyone diving so deeply into their interests) looked like the stronger, more connected family she was hoping to have? She wanted to have some time together and show them other things they might be interested in, but they wouldn't budge. She saw them less...and less...and less and she was starting to wonder what the point was.

Another homeschool parent I spoke with said she felt such a conflict between what she could spend her time doing (her interests) and what she should be doing (helping her kids with theirs) that she openly wondered if homeschooling/unschooling was just a more acceptable title for "people who have way too much time to do whatever they want".

The hidden harm in following your interests is when it becomes something that ultimately removes you from your family. The hidden harm in following your interests is when it gives you tunnel vision, blinding you from opportunities to discover other things that might become an interest. The hidden harm in following your interests is when a life you intended to bring your family closer together becomes a life where everyone is separate, all the time.

Friday, March 14, 2014

moment in the madness #1: Illinois has no S

We are currently sitting in Illinois while I prep for a homeschool conference I'm speaking at tomorrow.

Illinois means "many tolls to be paid" in Ancient Gibberish

Having never been to this state,  there was of course some oohing and aahing by the hmmmschoolers at the prospect of a new, uncharted land. I had to announce when we crossed over the border into Illinois, which my oldest kept pronouncing as Ill-I-Noise.

I explained to my Almost Eleven Year Old Hmmmschooler that you don't pronounce the "s" on the end of Illinois.

He said that was fine, and decided that as long as we are all in Illinois, we should take out the "s" of most words, including his brother's name (which starts with an S).

When you take the "s" out of your words, for some reason everything then gets said with a British accent. (At least that's how it works in our hotel room.) No one has been able to explain to me why the S holds us in a midwestern speech pattern.

I will be using "s" in my presentations tomorrow. Don't tell my oldest son. :)

** You have just experienced a moment in the madness of hmmmschooling, where we learn from life and live what we learn. Stay tuned here for more craziness, or join the hmmmschooling insanity on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pinterest Bustin': how to remove sharpie marker from different surfaces

There's a little something floating around Pinterest that tells you all the magical ways to remove permanent (Sharpie) marker from different surfaces. It looked like just the thing for the Pinterest Busters to test.


Sharpie off clothing with...hand sanitizer?

One of our Pinterest Busters drew a llama on a shirt and attempted to kill it with hand sanitizer.

Even after rubbing AND rinsing in water, all it did was blur the edges of Ms. Llama. We all agreed that although this was quite artistic, it did not look good for the hand-sanitizer-attacks-sharpie theory.

Sharpie off walls with...toothpaste and/or hairspray?

Kids get so excited when you say "Hey, grab that Sharpie and draw on the wall, okay?"

Then you say "spray some hairspray on it" and the ink runs down the wall.

Then you tell them to smear toothpaste all over the other drawing...and they get all giggly.

Then you use some elbow grease with more toothpaste and more hairspray...

Eventually you use enough elbow grease that you get the images to fade pretty darn good.

However...you also realize you've taken off paint at the same time. :)

Sharpie off wood/furniture with...rubbing alcohol and/or milk?

As you can see in the Pinterest image at the beginning of this post, wood is notated differently than furniture. All our Pinterest Busters wondered what exactly "furniture" meant. Was it wood furniture? Leather furniture? Upholstered furniture? Plastic furniture? We opted to test both rubbing alcohol and milk on the table top...because (at first) Sharpie ended up there without us planning to put it there. ;)

The Sharpie bled through from the llama on the t-shirt...
...and the rubbing alcohol took it away!
Then a certain Pinterest Buster got silly, and drew a smiley on the table...

...poured milk over it...

...and scrubbed it out!

Sharpie out of carpet with...white vinegar?

A Buster drew a lovely scene on a little rug...

And the white vinegar did nothing but smear stuff around...no matter how hard we tried.

Sharpie off a dry erase board with...dry erase markers?

First, use Sharpies to put some random artwork on the dry erase board.

Second, cover the artwork with dry erase marker scribbles.

Thirdly, erase everything. It really comes right off. For reals!

End result? The Pinterest Busters found that most claims for the hard surfaces turned out to be true, while the things that supposedly worked on fabric-like things did not work. The Pinterest Busters also found that it is a lot of fun when someone hands you a Sharpie marker and basically says "Wreck this, we're going to try and fix it. And it's okay if we can't." :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pinterest Bustin': Will Vicks in a tart warmer relieve congestion?

The hmmmschoolers are crazy for Vicks. Vicks is the miracle cure for everything. If they could eat it with a spoon, they probably would.

I don't much care for Vicks, but I'm crazy for tart warmers. I can make the house smell lovely and not have to worry about open flames around animals or crazy children who run amok. Tart warmers and I are totally BFF.

So as the winter Yuck crept upon us this past week and noses were stuffed beyond unstuffing, I thought about the Pinterest idea I'd seen for using Vicks in a tart warmer to help relieve nasal congestion.

 As the story goes, a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of Vicks in your 'lil tart warmer will fill the air with the magical decongestant powers of eucalyptus vapors.

In the name of science, I moved one of my tart warmers into Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler's room and placed a tablespoon of both water and Vicks upon it. I turned the warmer on and let the magic do it's thing. Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler went to bed about 9 pm.

So...did it work?


At 1:30 am, my son awoke me to announce that "that stupid Pinterest idea doesn't work" and could he "please have something to actually unplug his nose".

I walked into his room expecting to be greeted by the aroma of Vicks. I had not yet caught the winter Yuck the boys were suffering from, so I should have been able to smell Vicks...but there was nothing. At all. Until I got right over the tart warmer.

For reals.

Our 1:30 am verdict on this Pinterest idea was that unless you want to fall asleep snuggling the tart warmer/Vicks contraption right under your nose, you're probably not going to get any worthwhile congestion relief from it. It did not fill the air with the magical decongestant powers of eucalyptus vapors. It did not, I say.

As an aside from the mom in me, have you ever tried to wash Vicks off of something plastic or ceramic? Vicks is like bacon grease mixed with Vaseline mixed with glue. Don't ever add this to your dishes to-do list if you don't have to.

We have found we get the most from our Vicks by simply rubbing it on the congested person's chest.

I know. We're kind of old school and unexciting. But we like it that way.

Until next time, Pinterest Busters...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Interview with Ten Year Old Hmmmschooler

One should never assume that two children raised in the same family are the same kind of animal. At all. After posting my interview with my youngest, Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler, I felt I had to also post the interview with my oldest, Ten Year Old Hmmmschooler.

Question: What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?
Him: The freedom.

Question: If someone asked you what homeschooling is or what you do all day, what would you tell them?
Him: I'd tell them that we don't have "sit down" school all day, but that we do learn new things anyway. We have no busywork and we have more flexibility than "regular" schoolers.

Question: If someone told you homeschoolers don't have to do as much as public schoolers and therefore aren't as smart, what would you say?
Him: I would ask them a simple physics or programming question and then walk away.

Question: Describe your perfect homeschooling day.
Him: Playing a paper video game with everyone, playing Minecraft, and then finishing a new Scratch project.

Question: Do you think you would ever be interested in going to public school? Why or why not?
Him: I would not be interested. Period. No.

Question: How do you learn best: by seeing, hearing, or doing?
Him: Doing.

Question: What do you think you might want to do as a job when you are an adult?
Him: Video game maker or mechanic.

Question: If you have children, will you homeschool them?
Him: I don't plan on getting married. But for the sake of your question, yes.

One should not assume that two children born 12 months and three weeks apart and both raised by the same parents are the same kind of animal. They might be totally different species in separate zoos on different continents.

After all, one child is a piece of cake. Two children are not two pieces of cake. ;)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Interview with Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler

Want to know how someone feels about their life as a hmmmschooler? In my opinion, it's best to go straight to the source. I present to you an unedited interview with my youngest child, Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler.

Question: How long have you been homeschooled?
Him: Eight years.
Me: Eight years? You're only nine years old.
Him. Yeah. I know.

Question: What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?
Him: No pointless stuff. You get to hang out with your mom. It's mostly life school.

Question: What is your least favorite thing about homeschooling?
Him: If we ever did pointless stuff, I would not like that. But we barely ever do that. Because our teacher doesn't even like that.
Me: You mean me?
Him: Yeah.

Question: If someone asked you what homeschooling is or what you do all day, what would tell them?
Him: I would say it's a shorter type school with no pointless stuff. And we have a co-op meeting with friends every week.

Question: Describe your perfect homeschooling day.
Him: I would play Minecraft with mom and then I would play paper video games with mom and then we would read Life of Fred.

Question: Do you think you would ever be interested in going to public school? Why or why not?
Him: No. They don't let you do your math on the toilet.

Question: What do you wish you could do more of?

Question: How do you learn best: by seeing, hearing, or doing?
Him: Doing.

Question: What do you think you might want to have as a job when you are an adult?
Him: A cook or maybe a game-maker.

Question: If you have children, will you homeschool them?
Him: Yes. Maybe. I don't know.

And there you have it. When you want to know the answers, Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler will hook you up. :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

a parent's job, a kid's job

Ever been confused about what a parent's responsibility is? Well, you've no reason to be confused any longer. The Nine and Ten Year Old Hmmmschoolers are here to explain it all.

Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler
"A parent's job is to clean stuff and protect their kids. They need to feed the animals and feed the kids good food and birth the child. They teach the kid stuff like 2 + 2 = 4 and how to start the wood stove. They also clean the kids room when he is sick or when he is gone. Parents should also love their kids." - Ten Year Old Hmmmschooler

"There are many responsibilities a parent has. One is to keep their kids safe. They also should feed the pet bunny and use murder alarms to protect their kids. They could buy food and gifts for the kids, too. They should also play with the child." - Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler

And, just in case you were wondering what a kid's responsibility is, they cleared that up for me, too.

"A kid's job is to clean its room and the horse stalls. The kid should make supper sometimes and use manners, too. The kids should listen to the parents and do what the parent wants. The kid should love its parents, too." - Ten Year Old Hmmmschooler

Ten Year Old Hmmmschooler
"There are not as many responsibilities for a kid. One is to help their parents. Another one is to go to school everyday. They should do their chores and do what their parents say. I guess they should use manners, too." - Nine Year Old Hmmmschooler

Interesting. Verrrrrrrry interesting. :)