Thursday, March 28, 2013

In Which I Talk About Socialization

I home school. I have home schooled from the beginning, and I am addicted. I will home school my 4 children up through high school. Maybe I will even home school them through college (okay, maybe that is a little extreme). Here's the thing, though, homeschoolers have this stigma. There is this looming cloud over the homeschooling community that is just waiting to erupt from anyone who has not had a "regular" interaction with a homeschooling family. It is SOCIALIZATION.

I must preface my thoughts. This post is in no way a criticism of any of you; it is simply me sharing my thoughts on the negative comments homeschooling families receive about socialization. For those of you who home school, you know the question? The question that we balk at, the question that makes us secretly laugh at home (yes, we do laugh at this): what about their socialization? Well, you (an adult) just spent five minutes carrying on a very normal conversation with my 7 year old, and you are still asking me about socialization???

I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me that question. I understand....when we have no experience with something, we just accept the ideas that have either been fed to us or embrace our initial reactions with one particular person, rather than looking at the group as a whole. This can also happen on the flip side where homeschooling families have certain ideas about "public school children." But, I digress.

So, how do I answer that inevitable question. Do I list all the extra-curricular activities that my children do with other children, or do I list all the free-play dates that we have with other children, or do I list all the activities that my children do with adults, or do I list all the activities that my children do with the family, or do I list all the activities that my children do to service the community? That is one approach, but not the one I choose.

 Socialization does not come from activity. Socialization does not come from being contained in a room with 20 other children of the same age. True socialization is a process and is something we are constantly learning. To be a healthy "socialized" being, a child needs authentic relationships. These relationships can be with children of any age, or even adults. My children can sit down and have a meaningful conversation with adults but also play with children 3 years younger than they are. My children all have friends that are close in age, but they also have friends who are years younger or years older. I do not look for opportunities to "socialize" my children. I look for purpose-filled relationships. I look for opportunities to teach my children how to love and honor others. I use potential negative situations to teach them problem solving skills.

 Wikipedia tells me that socialization refers to "the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs, and ideologies providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained.'"

It seems to me that this can be done pretty well at home. Sometimes I wonder if what people really want to ask is, "Are your kids normal?" But they choose the more "politically correct" route by asking about their socialization. Imagine if it were reversed, and I asked all of you who send your children to school (and this is how it has been said to me), "Well, my goodness, what do you DO about their socialization?" We do NOT lock ourselves in our homes, barring all windows, shutting out the rest of the world. Most of us are very regular, normal people who are very active in our communities. We simply choose to educate our children at home (for many different reasons).

For those of you who are already homeschooling and know what I am talking about...just respond with a polite, "Johnny, quick, run!!! Someone is trying to talk to us!"

For any of you considering homeschooling, please know that your child will be fine. Your child will get all the interaction that he/she needs especially if you are paying attention. Your child will grow up healthy, loved, eager, and as normal as any other child. I mean, they look normal to me....

Some very normal interaction with the cousins

And for those of you who don't home school, just don't ask. Assume that I am, just like you, making the best decision for our family, and that all of my children will most definitely grow up with flaws, quirks, and oddities but full of passion, honor, love, and a desire to learn.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Time of Celebration

Birthday celebrations are eagerly welcomed in our house, and this weekend was packed full with celebrating two days in a row. Before the celebrations we usually spend weeks prepping for the individual's special day. Little giggles from the kitchen, shuffling while a child tries to hide an "in process" gift before the birthday child enters the room. I think the gift makers have just as much fun as the gift receiver. This year we prepped and planned for Cami's birthday. I found some special items on ebay that she was delighted to receive (a Rosie the train being one of those items). In fact, she is sleeping with it right now.

The birthday girl waiting for her "surprise"

But we also took some to time to re-purpose an old nightstand into a beautiful play kitchen (you know the ones all over pinterest). Alan's dad works at the transfer station and got us the faucet, knobs, and oven rack. I had some fabric stored away. We purchased paint and hardware, put in a lot of time, and we are pretty pleased with the results. More importantly, Cami is pleased.

The rest of the family pitched in to make some beautiful accessories for the kitchen. Grandma Kay made some perfect little aprons, pot holders, and dish towels. A dear friend of mine knit some beautiful donuts.  The kiddos took over the making of felt food, and were very proud of their finished product. We are stuffed full today of many delightful, imaginary dishes.We live in a culture of consumers, but I love being a family of intentional givers. And my little 3 year old was delighted to receive all of her purposeful gifts. 

Saturday we were blessed to celebrate with dear friends. We said goodbye that night feeling full, thankful, and looking forward to another day of celebrating with family. This morning started unexpectedly with our little birthday girl waking at 4:00am puking everywhere. Then big sister started in. After 2 hours of throwing up, all were finally back to sleep. When the girls woke again at 8:00 they were full of energy and ready to celebrate, but we already knew we had to cancel the party. Cami was so sad that her cousins could not join her today, but was comforted when I told her we would see them later in the week.

We went ahead and made a cake together because what is a birthday without some candles? Then Grandma and Papa stopped by (no worries for them about little ones getting the pukes) with their wonderful packages and shared in cake and ice cream. We played trains and kitchen all afternoon with a short break to watch a Tinker Bell movie (chosen, of course, by our little 3 year old).

To reflect back on this year makes me laugh out loud (literally). Cami is a natural entertainer and has such an infectious, beautiful laugh. I think it is fitting to end with some of my favorite Cami quotes of the year.

When caught in the bathroom unraveling the dental floss, she says, "It is not dental floss; it is Rapunzel hair."

"What's your name mom?"
Me: "Mommy."
Cami: "No, it's Pink Thomas the Train."

When caught covering the kitchen chair with wipes she says, "This is my Christmas tree, and these are the lights."

Every night before bed, "Mommy, please tell me a Train story." Then when I start to tell the story, she interrupts with the details that are most important, then tells me, "okay, now you can talk again."

In the car, big sister is telling us a story. Cami says, "SHHHHH Kaylynn, it is MY turn to talk now."

Whenever we drive by the train tracks, "Mom, look there's a train."
Me: "Where?"
Cami: "Just kidding; I tricked you."

Me: "Cami, when you turn 3, you will be a big girl, and it will be time to start using the potty."
Cami: "I don't want to turn 3; I just want to stay 2."

Every night when daddy comes home, she runs and jumps into his arms and says, "I missed you so much Daddy." Then gives him what we call Old Lady kisses (she puckers her lips as big as they can go then places a delicate, slow kiss right on his cheek.

Cami (all dressed up): "Bye mom, I am leaving. I will miss you."
Me: "Well, where are you going?"
Cami: "I am going to Vegas."

Cami: "Mommy, why does everyone want to kiss me all the time?"
(and she does get lots of kisses...the older siblings say that she is just so kissable).

Day one Cami says "Daddy, I am going to marry you."
Day two Cami says, "Mommy let's marry."
Day three Cami says, "I am going to marry Bob Bob (her cousin)."

She comes to me crying, I say "Cami what's wrong?"
She replies with folded arms: "I am not telling."

She is spirited, she is lovely, she is a ball of energy and fun. Happy Birthday to my dear 3 year old!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Handmade Home

I don't usually post about our creative endeavors or the handmade home improvements/decor we add to the house. I guess I feel like there are plenty of decorating blogs and pinterest ideas; I don't need to add to them. Yet, we have been creating so much in our home that I just simply have to share.

 I got a new sewing machine last month, and I have been a sewing maniac. I think before I show you what I have been sewing, I need to tell you a little bit about my sewing history

I took a sewing class in high school....I made a skirt and a a scarf. The skirt had a draw string waist not a zipper. I was able to wear it a couple of times before I ripped one of the seams. I never fixed it. The scarf was fleece. I simply cut a length of fleece and cut some fringe in the ends. I felt like a master, but really anyone over the age of 2 could make that scarf.

So, I didn't sew for years after that. About 3 years ago a friend gave me a sewing machine. I was excited to sew again; like a giddy little school girl. We used it to make simple pillow case dresses, some pillow covers, and many gifts. My biggest adventure with that particular sewing machine was a pair of Star Wars capes for my oldest two. I pulled out the pattern, cried and threw a fit because I was so overwhelmed, then handed everything over to my dear, patient husband.  He cut, pinned, and I did the sewing. Yes, this is how I function. One sleeve was longer than the other on my daughter's cape, and the hem was crooked on my son's. They didn't care, of course, they just loved them. I had one slight issue with this sewing machine. An issue that we couldn't seem to work out. It was a little temperamental and no amount of coaxing from me would change its mind. It had only two speeds....stop or full speed ahead. I simply cannot sew a straight line, and full speed ahead was not helping. So I started researching and found a sewing machine in our budget (which wasn't much), and the rest is history. It is a wonder how much more enjoyable it is to sew when my bobbin doesn't stick or I have to rip my seam out because it is too crooked.

I also realized that I do not like using a huge pattern. It is too overwhelming for me. So I stick to things that don't need a pattern.

 Like Pillow covers:

Curtains (for the girl's room):

 Individual pockets hung by each child's bed for all of their bedtime treasures (don't you just love their fabric choices):

I have a few skirts in mind (no pattern required) that I am planning on sewing next. I just love skirts for the summertime!

I am not the only one who has been busy. Alan went to work building some new beds for the kids. He took two weekends to build four beds. We had to fill some specific requests: Jeremie wanted his high, and Kalli wanted a ladder up to her bed. Kaylynn was in Okinawa while we built these (we did not tell her, and she returned fully surprised), but the other three had theirs hands in the entire work. Cami handing Daddy the screws, Jeremie screwing the screws in while Kalli held the level. I love this kind of family work. Here they are almost complete. We have to stain them yet, but we need to wait until we can leave the windows open all day.

Take note of Cami's bed (the bottom one). She is very particular about her blankets and what order they must be in for bedtime. She simply cannot sleep in her bed without her Thomas blanket, her blue "not Thomas Blanket," and her "made by Auntie Angie" blanket. These all go on in a certain order (not the same order) every night, and need to made up in a certain order every morning.

Jeremie's Loft Bed
(He has enough room to walk and play under which is necessary because his room is so small).

Jeremie's room photos would not be complete without including some photos of how he arranges his bed.

All of his "stuffies" have names and an order. He tucks them in every night. He has a corkboard covered with fabric behind them where he hangs his very important items. I love to see what he tacks up here (it is different every week).

We are not the only ones who have made for our home. My dear sister sent us some beautiful crocheted blankets for Christmas. Besides the beauties on the kids' beds, we have these two lovelies in our living room. What a treat to snuggle under these on a cold winter night.

I love having a handmade home. I have such an eclectic style that I really don't care if my living room decor matches perfectly. I like to surround myself with things that have meaning. Items that are not merely things but given or made with intention and full of love.

Some Winter Knits

Some beautiful winter knits arrived this past Christmas. Hand made with tons of love by Grandma Lynn. My kiddos adore the new trend of animal hats, and they appreciate even more anything homemade. So, there were many squeals of delight and exclamations of joy when they opened their beautiful homemade hats.

Kaylynn received an adorable fox.

Jeremie absolutely loves sock monkies and Grandma's homemade hat was perfect.

Kalli in her kitty hat.

And my favorite....maybe because it is on the littlest.......maybe because she literally wears it all the time.....or possibly because it is a piggy (and I love pigs) and even has a tail in the back.

So if you see my little ones wearing these beautiful hats all credit goes to my dear mama who is a wonder with her knitting needles. I aim to have some lessons as soon as I can get out West to visit. I definitely need to be able to make some of this cuteness. Until then, my mama joyously fills all my requests for wash cloths, pot holders, and anything else she decides to surprise us with. Thank you mama for the beautiful hats!