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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just begun and out of time

I've been trying to find time to make some new creations and told myself I would begin sewing today! Every time I even get started with something, it seems I am out of time before I've really begun! I used to check my email first thing so I wouldn't miss anything important and it wouldn't get too cluttered, but now I find myself following it to check messages in Facebook or here and there and I've run out of time, yet again, before I'm even done with that and on to the important task I had set to do on the computer that day! I am now resolving not to check email until I've done my online to-do list first. We'll see if that will work a little better. I am hoping it doesn't come down to me simply having to get up earlier! No one will benefit from that, I promise you!

So back to today; I took care of some errands I needed to get done quickly this morning, wore out the kids at the park, put my youngest down for a nap, got out the sewing machine, went through boxes of fabric, and decided to test out the machine on my mending first. Had an issue putting a simple patch on a tiny pair of jeans for my baby girl! After mending my son's and husband's pants and shirts (what is it with boys and holes in their clothes?!), wasting time cutting the stitches out and acceding to the fact that I will have to patch the baby's pants by hand, I was almost out of time!

I'm probably jinxing myself,  but I allege that I will get something made tomorrow! At least one item! Anything! I've also been very inspired, by looking at other artists work online (another off-task meandering I took today), to paint or draw again! It's been a long time since I picked up anything other than fabric or yarn to work with and my fingers are itching for brush and canvas or maybe pastels...! I'll get to that enticement in my spare time. Yes all that lavish spare time I have.

Me? Homeschool my kids? Are you crazy?!

I never thought in my life I would be homeschooling my kids! I thought it was only for extremely religious people or people who wanted complete control over their kids. And now here I am a homeschooling mom! Why do I do it? Lots of reasons, but these are the top few:

I am more interested in my kids being happy, caring, productive members of society than getting good grades. I think music, art, nature, learning compassion by volunteering, etc,  are just as important as letters and numbers. Schools, at least here in California, have cut so many artistic programs and stress testing so much and at an earlier and earlier age! I don't think that pressure is healthy or necessary. I want my kids to always hunger for learning and enjoy it, as they do now. Learning is our lifestyle, not something you do for a few hours a day then stop because you're not at school. I want them to know learning can be anytime, anywhere, in a wide variety of ways!

Also, I am giving my kids the wonderful, irreplaceable gift of time! Time to sleep when they need it, relax and read when they want, time to delve into subjects they are interested in for as long as they want, go on many more field trips, out into nature, or just to play and be kids! They'll have time to find their passions in life and try them out long before they need to pick a college major. (I hope). At least they'll have much more time to try the things they like.

I liked this post for her answers on common questions people ask homeschool parents. My answers would be very similar, in case you were wondering:
http://blog.sukiwessling.com/2012/03/the-questions-the-answers/

I also love that my kids don't feel they have to conform to the norm. They can learn at their own pace and take as much or little time as they need. They are learning to get along with people of all ages, not just their own age. Though we are also around lots of kids his own age many days of the week. There are so many great classes, event, field trips, and more for homeschoolers around here. Also, they're more often learning from good roll models, not quite so much from their peers.

I read somewhere that "World Learner" would be a better title than "Homeschooler". It would be more fitting! We are out in the real world learning in so many ways, so much more than can be taught in a classroom. We definitely don't sit at home alone at the table doing worksheets all day! And I still have to work, read, and have a life outside of homeschooling.

I don't think homeschooling is the only way or even the best way in many families to a good education, but it's what is best for my family. At least for now. We're open to changing if it ever stops working for us. Although I don't think the school system is great, I know there are many fabulous teachers who do the best they can within the system and everyone needs to do what is best in their own situation. I just love that right now I am able to give these gifts to my kids while I can.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Cats Sleep in the Weirdest Places!

Two fat cats, trying to curl up on one dining chair. Barely successful.
One very early morning, I awoke to the sound of crashing, like bottles being thrown on the floor. I look up from my bed to see things flying out of the cupboard under the sink in my bathroom, with no sign of anyone around! Poltergeist?! Or crazy cat who had a grudge against some unfortunate toiletries that happened to be in the way of where he decided was a good spot to sleep?!

I did not go get my camera at this early hour, but threw the cat out and crawled back into bed. However I do have some interesting pics of other places my furry kids have curled up. They do not have one spot they like to sleep. I find Rocco and Rascal (though Rascal would be a fitting name for both!) all over in the strangest places!  I've had many cats in my family over my life, but these are truly two of the most curious troublemakers I've ever met!

you don't even fit...

Much to his dismay, inside or on top of my husband's lunch box on the kitchen counter was a special favorite for a while. And the cats took turns.


Is the art easel really comfortable?
In the stroller

Under the stroller (they're both in there)
This is for babies only. Human babies.

In the tomato plant

under the pool and on top of the sandbox
In the doll cradle


Squished in one kid sized chair. You would think there is no adult size chair right next to it! (which there is)

Fine to be on the headboard except when my head is below it and you jump on and off of all night!!!

Does he expect me to feed him with the kids at their table?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lord of the Flies at the Park- Stop the bullies or let boys be boys?

artist Greg Capullo
It's difficult to know when to intervene, and when to let our kids deal with conflict on their own.


We were at the park with a ton of friends today. My five year old son was thrilled and couldn't wait to get there!

We were running late as usual and, by the time we arrived, there was literally a pack of at least ten boys playing a game with sticks, hideouts, and running here and there. It was exciting, overwhelming, and very intimidating to my soft spoken guy who takes a while to warm up in a small group, let alone a wild pack of boys who were too engrossed in their game to want to play baseball (which is what he wanted to do).

He was brave and followed them around, working up the courage to join in, hoping someone would pull him into the fun, but too shy to ask. I encouraged him to keep trying. "Go run with the boys! Ask what they're doing?!" I'd say.

They noticed him sure enough. 


They noticed he did not speak, but just hung around. Someone yelled, "he's the bad guy! Attack!!" Suddenly a swarm of boys was coming at him with sticks screaming "get him!" I know these kids are good boys with great parents, but I'm sure it was terrifying for my son and it's hard to stop a riled up pack of boys in mid play!

I could feel the fear and see the crushing hurt in my own boy's eyes. 


One kid hit him in the shoulder, my son clenched his fist and pulled back his arm to hit back, but I yelled for him to stop! We went aside and talked about using his words and speaking up. We've had a lot of talks about speaking up lately, due to kids bullying him at school while he just keeps silent; exactly how I was as a child. (Sometimes you don't want your kid to be just like you!!) Along with feeling his hurt, years of my own childhood trauma came flooding back. I had been in the same situation many times, though I never tried to hit back, I would become paralyzed and could not speak up, either.

I contained myself and tried to keep my tone light. 


I know these boys just got carried away. I told my son he needs to let them know right away if he doesn't like how they're playing and tell them firmly to STOP if they're being mean or trying to hurt him. He nodded & agreed.

I was proud of him that he didn't hold it against them, but continued trying to join in. Staying close to them, though still quietly. Mostly watching the game.

The pack of boys mostly ran from him, still convinced he was "the bad guy". Some of the other moms tried to encourage their kids to include him, but they were so involved in their game, it wasn't very effective.

After a while, they got all riled up again and came at him.


The same kid hit him, this time with my son's his own plastic baseball bat! I'm proud to say he blocked it with his karate upper block! Then stood in "ready stance", prepared to defend himself. Though, one of the kids noticed the move and yelled, "He wants to fight!!"

I yelled at the kid with the bat, "You DO NOT hit ANYONE with a bat!" and took it away. I talked to my son again, as he had grabbed the bat and was preparing to hit back. I reminded him he should use his voice! Same nod & agreeing to do so next time.

We moved away from the other boys. He brought out a ball, but someone got a hold of it and decided it would be fun to play keep away from him.

I watched a bit, then asked him if it was bothering him, but this time he seemed happy with the attention, so let I him be, only reminding him to speak up if he wanted them to stop. I kept a close eye out. I was so torn between wanting him to learn to deal with conflict on his own and stepping in. I didn't want to seem like an overprotective parent.

I am normally all for boys being boys and love when other parents don't mind a little rough play. 


They don't get enough wrestling around and getting dirty these days to get it out of their systems! Eventually it seemed he was being included and no longer a single target. Still, we didn't stay much longer.

As we buckled up in the car, I was holding back tears, but did not want to bring my own post traumatic stress into it, so, I simply asked him how he felt about today. He said with a big smile, "Fine! One kid gave me animal crackers!" "Did you have fun?" "Yep!"

I did go over the drill, pointedly, as we drove home; "when they're doing something you don't like, you need to tell them because they don't know that you don't like it and they think you're playing. Say- Please stop. I don't like that. If they don't stop, Say- STOP! strongly and walk away if you need to. If they still don't stop, go tell a parent or teacher."

"Ok mom."
 
*Sigh*

It's the hardest thing to watch your kids get hurt. 


More so when it's emotional hurt, I think. And I am just at the beginning of this parenting thing! This was one of the (many) reasons I decided to homeschool. So he wouldn't have to deal with bullies at school. We won't let it get us down, though.

We will be back at the park. We'll see these same kids again. I know they are good kids and, obviously, this can happen with the best of them! I know my son warms up slowly and it takes him a while to feel comfortable. I know this about him, so I can try hard to be on time for him, even early, to anything with large groups. If he can connect with just one kid before others get there, it makes a world of difference.

Sometimes he can be so outgoing, I forget he's a shy guy at heart. I'm definitely keeping him in karate! His awesome teachers there have been helping him speak up & know what to do in this type of situation. I highly recommend Rod Sanford Martial Arts in Soquel! They are amazing!!

If you're still in dire worry, my son is perfectly fine. He said he had a great day. We made Easter crafts and then saw some old friends that he always gets along great with. We roasted hot dogs and then marshmallows in our outdoor potbelly stove. It was his choice for dinner tonight! I am still scarred, but will try not to rub my fears off on him.

I later spoke to him about what would he do if he had been there earlier? If he had been part of the group of boys playing and someone else had been the last one there who was deemed "the bad guy". He wasn't sure, so I suggested he might try to include him and make him feel welcome. He might ask the other boys to stop attacking him.

He then told me he was glad he had been the last to get there, so it hadn't happened to anyone else. He really is a gentle caring soul! I hope he can always stay that way!

*If you're confused about his going to school and homeschooling, we're part of a homeschooling alternative school.

Too Cute for Cotton! Fun Easy Easter or Spring Baby Chicks Craft

A super cute and easy craft just in time for Easter, or just a fun spring decoration! And for almost no cost!

My son had a blast making these cute fluffy baby chicks with some cotton pom poms. Just glue two together, cut out a few tiny paper triangles and glue them on for the beaks and feet. They were adorable just like that, but who can resist google eyes!

He made one and decided we needed one for each member of the family! We used large cotton balls from the drug store for the larger ones and tiny colored pom poms, from a craft store.

Can you guess which one he is? His favorite color is still green! We shredded some green construction paper and filled a strawberry basket to make a comfy nest for these little chickies. It's now the Easter centerpiece of our family table.

Work, Art, Family, Kids, Education..How to fit it all together

I finally have a computer that works (pause for happy dance & screaming, Joy Joy Joy!!), so I am hoping I can keep up my new found motivation to stay up to date!
Someday maybe I'll even have a phone or device to upload pics & blog instantly to truly be in the 21st century with you! For now, there are more important things.
I've been thinking a lot about my blog and what I want to convey. The thing is, I am pushed and pulled in so many directions (as if you don't know how that is?), if I stick all my scattered thoughts on one blog, it most likely will not have (or seem to have) a coherent theme or idea to hold it all together.

I thought maybe I should separate my work, craft ideas, what I'm working on, website & store updates, from my home life which would consist of my random thoughts, homeschooling my kids, activities, field trips, and crafts I do with them. However, I know I will not keep more than one up to date, and they are so bound together in my daily life, it would be hard to separate... So after tossing and turning all night over this problem I created for myself in my own head, as if I didn't have more important things to ponder, I have concluded that I will keep it all mashed together in a big chaotic melting pot just as my life truly is!

I will be true to myself (so far this blog has admittedly been painfully serious and hardly showing my personality as I thought I should come across as professional) so be warned of strange notions and random thoughts to come, along with stories, ramblings, pics, ideas, crafts, odd questions, family fun, good books, movies, food, adventures, anything and everything I am currently interested in. I'll throw in updates of work here and there. You'll find I have a hard time sticking to one thing and jump around a lot. If I feel it's too desultory I can always create another blog, right?

In the Mood for New this Spring

It's finally done! Well, almost. My website has a new look, so check it out when you have a chance and let me know what you think.  http://leahmastilock.ash.com

I'm having trouble keeping the links in the right column doing what they should be doing, but I'll get it worked out.You can still navigate through the tabs on the top for now.

Also, I've got a bunch of wonderful items up on Etsy, http://sandytoescreations.etsy.com. You know you can't wait to take a look at! Especially since my adorable daughter is modeling some headbands almost as cute as her and you wouldn't want to miss that!
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