Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Got a Teen?

I found this online this morning and I had to share!
Thank you to my friend Julianna for posting first.

This piece was written by Gretchen Schmelzer PhD; I hope she doesn't mind that I'm sharing it here. 

About the author: Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD is a licensed psychologist, trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow. She is a trauma survivor, who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration and behavior change across every level of system from individuals, to groups, to large systems and countries, including her role as the expert consultant Frontline for their documentary on Alaskan survivors of priest sexual abuse (aired April 19, 2011). Gretchen is the Founder & Editor of Emotional Geographic, a web-mag created to support healing from long term trauma. www.emotionalgeographic.com

Saturday, October 7, 2017


This past month is one of those times of the year when our family celebrates many birthdays of many loved ones. Most of the adults are a bit uncomfortable with celebration in their honor while most of the kids dig the moments of being treated as special and given gifts. 

I think human beings love ritual and celebration. Still I find it interesting that we celebrate the day we were born. When I had kids myself I felt the desire to celebrate becoming a mother to each kid, but that's not really the same thing as celebrating them. Although it did become a celebration of them.

What I'm wondering is why be continue those celebrations into adulthood. Why do we almost universally celebrate with cake. Where did the candles come from? Just...what the heck is this all about? I went and read about the history of birthday celebrations; that still doesn't explain why we do it.

My own birthday is coming up soon and people are already asking me what do you want to do on your birthday? What can I buy you?

The truth is, I don't want anything. I never want anything. 
I don't even like cake!

THIS is what I want
for my birthday.
I love the thought of the people who love me. I love the fact that the kids get enthusiastic about showing me their love. I love that they plan special things for me. I used to LOVE the homemade cards and gifts. But they won't do those things anymore. It is no longer about what I want, but what they want to do for me. If it was for me they would each get a piece of paper and write loving things, draw or make something for me, and simply spend the day with me. Time. Time is the ultimate expression of love.

Instead they wish to buy me stuff...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Radio Flyer: Stop Wagon My Heart Around

When the kids were very small my dad bought Elizabeth a Red Radio Flyer wagon. The wagon, the best toy ever. Can be used in a zillion different ways by every single kid. You're only limited by your imagination. Jer and I used to go for fairly long walks pulling that wagon with toddle Elizabeth all wrapped up in padding blankets and warm mittens.

Leave it to my kid.
I remember the day when the kids were quite young, John was maybe 4 and Liz was 7ish. Elizabeth was angry at me for something and had decided to run away. And John was going with her, blindly following her, as he used to do, letting her call the shots.

The two of them loaded up the wagon with their important things, including special stuffed animals, snacks, juice boxes, and coats in case it got cold at night on the road.

Someone else might have tried to talk the kids out of running away. Or followed them on a bike or something. Someone else might have fretted. But I was mightily entertained. They were on an adventure...down the block and around the corner pulling their red Flyer Town and Country model wagon. Laughing.

While preparing to run away together, Elizabeth's anger was gone and John was contributing to the project with his enthusiasm and good ideas. She and John were having conversations about what to take, what they were going to go on their trip, where to go. They were psyched. The kids were in this thing together; they were on an adventure.
They started off down the street as I sat on a seat on the front porch, watching. Of course they came back within a very few minutes. Once they turned the corner on that sparkling, sunny day and lost sight of the house they realized that they were on their own and the fun was reduced quite significantly.

They returned home and unpacked their Radio Flyer.
Today they talk about that adventure like it took hours.

Worth it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rediscovering the Love of Homeschool

In the past week or so I've (still) been looking through old boxes and cleaning off my shelves. Many of the boxes contain our homeschool files from 2005 to now. I kept work from all disciplines in nicely organized folders.
*pats self on the back.

It is obvious that I don't need to keep all of these papers, but I have to keep some of them!!!!! The adorable early efforts at sentence writing, paragraphs, essays, stories, artwork, etc. Drawings of self and family and home. Doodles, attitude, and boredom. Some of these papers I would walk through a burning house for because they are a chronicle of the development of my children's identities. It's remarkable to see from this vantage point.

While looking through each file folder and reading page after page of the kids' work and page after page of my own notes, I feel like I've rediscovered a few things that I want to pass along to you if you are still in the early throes of homeschooling.

For example:

Doing lessons with kids is so much fun if you let it be. You truly don't have to struggle and stress about every little thing. You are in the process of teaching your children how to think, NOT what to think. You are teaching them that they may sometimes disagree with you, that they may stand alone at times and there is value in that, that learning/knowing more is FUN and feels amazing, that popular opinions aren't always the only options available, and you are teaching them that they have the ability and the responsibility to learn more, always more. They don't need to memorize state capitols and presidential dates. Learn the facts, yes, but learn the facts within the context of learning and thinking humans.

And there is math and science and art and music in every single day.
And you are teaching them that they can trust in you, trust in logic and reason, and ultimately trust in themselves. I recognize that it was my interactions with my kids that they took away from each lesson, in addition to the content of the lesson.

Did I leave them with:
You can do this, Momma, Dadda. You have the love, willingness, and heart that it takes to see your child as a unique individual with unique skills and challenges. Noone else can do this as well as you can with your child. Have patience with them. Have patience with yourself.

Tomorrow is another day.

Your thoughts on this?