Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hanukkah ends

We had an eventful Hanukkah. Family every night. Lots of presents for our dear little one. And for the first time I found Hanukkah story books that weren't awful. There are so many really cool Christmas stories, but I had never read a really cool Hanukkah story. This year I found three!

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel (this was my absolute favorite!!)
Hanukkah Moon by Deborah da Costa
Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah by Linda Glaser and Nancy Cote

There are a few more I requested from the library, but being Hanukkah time I was too far down on the request list to get them in time for Hanukkah. No worries, I'll check them out for next year.

We are now planning for our annual family friendly New Years party! Do you have any resolutions? I'm still thinking about mine, but I'll post them here once I figure it out. Of course this will be hard for me as I'm not really a resolution kind of a girl. So, we'll see...

I do wish you all a Happy New Year! You are out there, right?

Monday, December 22, 2008

The fight goes on

A major letter writing campaign is in full swing. I have sent emails/letters to Senator Wyden and Senator Smith of Oregon, Governor Kulongoski of Oregon and the governor of Virginia. I have also contacted the list of social workers, therapists and Oprah. I am doing what little part I can to help support Stephanie, Connor, Tavvi and their family. Please do your part.

See the new website for more information: http://helpkeepthemhome.com/index.html

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowed in

We are experiencing our second round of winter weather. After five, count them five, days indoors we finally got out yesterday. The first thing we did was go to see Santa at the mall. It was important that we see him before Hanukkah starts. My little one had to ask Santa if he brings presents to the kids who celebrate Hanukkah. Santa assured her that he will be bringing her a present...after all Hanukkah is a very important holiday in the Jewish calender. It is certainly an important day in our house!

And now we are stuck in the house again. We are finding lots to do. We read a fun Hanukkah book called Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. What a great story! Then we read The Only One Club and were inspired to do some Hanukkah crafts. Now we're watching Disney's Robin Hood and we've got Madagascar and Wall-E standing by. And the bonus for me is that I get to blog and knit!

Tomorrow we plan to make sugar cookies. We were going to do that today, but my sister borrowed our rolling pin. And of course Hanukkah starts tomorrow.

What does Hanukkah look like for the atheist Jew? We have traditions that we love and new traditions that we started. Making decorations is one thing we do every year and every year as our daughter gets older the decorations change. We also light candles in the menorah each night for eight nights. The adults exchange gifts on the first night, our daughter gets presents every night and we have friends over for a Hanukkah dinner. This year our Hanukkah dinner is the last night. We always make potato latkes. One of these years my husband, the passionate baker, will make sufganiyot (soof -gah - nee - yoat) little donuts. The idea is to cook things made with oil.

Potato latkes and sufganiyot are both fried in oil. This is to remember the story of the rededication of the old temple. After it's destruction and a fight, the Jews took back the temple. In the temple is the eternal light. There was only enough light to keep the light lit for one day. It took them eight days to make the oil and the one day of oil lasted those eight days. That's why we cook things in oil and why Hanukkah lasts eight days. Hanukkah means dedication. And so the story goes. We love the tradition of it all. For us it's not a religious thing. It's about family, traditions and age old stories (and some new ones).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I know we're homeschoolers, but...

this is ridiculous! I know that many have the impression that as homeschoolers we spend all our time at home. That is so not true. We are always on the go. In fact, I am manipulating our schedule to allow us more time at home because we are gone so much.

This week has been all at home. The storm hit Sunday morning. The snow isn't so bad, but with melting and freezing there is lots of ice out there and the roads are slick. My dear husband tried to get me chains for my minivan, but alas, they were sold out.

My dear friend "J" has chains. Lucky girl. She got to get out of the house. Not only did she get out of the house - she also ran all my errands for me while she was taking care of her errands. She also dropped her older daughter "M" (best friend to my daughter "C") off at my house to play. "C" was ecstatic to have a friend to play with. They played for hours and had a fabulous time. And it gave me a little break from being the center of attention.

The weather doesn't seem to be letting up. I don't know when this is going to end, but it better end soon. Or I'd better have chains soon. I've got to get out of this house!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Reprieve

At the moment it is temporary, but hopefully soon they will find a permanent solution. I contacted Jamie, a dear friend and former weekend anchor at Fox News here in Portland. She offered her suggestions of how to get this situation aired on the local news. Hopefully this will work. If there is enough media coverage, justice and the rights of the children will prevail.

See this blog for details.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Tell Me How This is Right, Please

How is it right to rip children away from a home where they are safe, secure and loved? How can they be left with no resources to allow them to stay and and live the lives they are entitled to? I just don't understand how this can happen in this day and age. We know that we should do what is in the best interest of the children. Why does that not apply here?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Political Discussions with 5 year olds

I turned on the TV this morning to President-Elect Barack Obama announcing his economic team. The moment C saw him she very happily announced "That's Barack Obama!". The conversation went like this.

Me: He is a very smart man.
C: I don't like George Bush
Me: Why?
C: Because I don't think he's smart enough to be president.

Out of the mouths of babes...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is there anyone out there like me?

My header tells a little about me, but let me elaborate. I really wonder if there is anyone out there like me. Of course if I were to be really specific I would love to find this person in the Portland area, westside please.

Who am I?

Mom of a 5 year old daughter
Practice Unconditional/Respectful parenting
Jewish Atheist (yes it is possible to be both - see Humanistic Judaism)
Eat traditional (Weston A. Price) style diet

Okay, so I guess even if you aren't on the westside of Portland I'm still being really specific. Well, I also believe in the Law of Attraction. So there you go! Is there anyone out there like me? Is anyone reading my blog?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slightly Radical Unschoolers

There is a wide range of unschoolers. There are those who simply unschool learning. At the other end of the spectrum are radical unschoolers. This is where unschooling encompasses the whole life. Children are given the same power and choices as adults. Both of these options work. There are also many people who live their lives somewhere between these two options.

We are a family somewhere in between, probably closer to the radical side but not totally radical. Lately I've experienced the radical unschoolers who can't accept that you can choose to be a little less radical or for some not radical at all and still be an unschooler.

We tried the total radical unschooling gig. Our daughter was a mess. She thrives on structure and without it she falls apart. This doesn't mean that we structure her whole day. She just needs to know what is going to happen in her day. She needs a plan. She needs to know what she can expect.

We are more radical when it comes to TV and bedtimes. There are almost no limits on TV. She watches as much as she wants, but the TV is off for most mealtimes. There are of course exceptions, for example, when we eat while watching a movie. We try to get into bed by 8:30 but that doesn't always happen. Our usual routine...we head to bed at about 8:30 and Chloe watches TV until about 9:30 (most of the time). Then it's time for her to settle in and go to sleep so that I can have my TV time. She has the option of going into the living room and watching on her own. She never chooses to do that. Truthfully, by that time of day she's tired and wants to sleep.

With no TV limits, she will turn the TV off to go play or help me in the kitchen or something else. Some people, even my husband, are often surprised by this. But with no limits, turning the TV off is not a big deal.

When it comes to food, well, that's a different story. Our daughter has "eating issues" for lack of a better term. She is five now and just started eating in July. Yes, she has been eating for only four months. Before that she drank only milk - raw milk so it was more nutritious, but only milk. Okay, she did it some food: Goldfish crackers for a while, then corn chips, then rolls or bagels. Yes, that was the extent of it.

She ate baby food as a baby, but rejected solids and slowly phased out the baby food. She developed a fear of food. We worked with many professionals and maybe some of it did some good. The real turning point was when (against the recommendation of professionals) I talked to my daughter and told her that she needed to start eating. I told her our concerns for her health and development and she understood.

It has been a slow road, but we are working on this together. I need to set more limits for her around food because if I don't she will eat only bread and rolls. Based on the recent discussion on our local unschooling list I shouldn't do this. I think it would be irresponsible of me not to. I do give her choices and she eats only things she likes. On occasion she does have to try a new food, but she only has to take one very small taste.

For the most part there are few limits in her life. We do have principles:

If we follows these principles it should all be cake...right? ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What is an unschooler?

This is a question not easily answered. It truly is different things to different people. This has come up in my community quite a bit over the past week. So, I will tell you what unschooling means to me. I'm sure someone out there will disagree or have their own definition. This is how I see it.

In our unschooling world we live our life every day. We don't sit down to lessons or have a curriculum. We do what we love to do or what we enjoy doing. We don't look for things that are educational we see the educational value in absolutely everything. Just try and not learn something from everything you do.

My daughter likes to take classes. She goes to soccer, ballet, swimming and art classes. She loves them all and if she had to pick just one I don't think she could do it. Fortunately she has lots of time to pursue all her interests. We also have our local homeschool resource center, VH. There we currently are involved in non-subject specific classes. In these classes we read stories, sing songs, play, dance and have fun. When my daughter wants to take subject specific classes, she is free to choose them.

Some might say that because of all these classes we are not really unschoolers. I have to say that I disagree. Everything we do is my daughter's decision. My daughter's schedule is busier than I'd like, but she loves all that she does and I support her choices.

Unschooling rocks! We choose every minute of every day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I know she's only 5, but

Man, did it freak me out when she informed me that she was going to school when she turns 10. I know that it means nothing and that she doesn't understand what she's really saying, but it really freaked me out. We are so enmeshed in our unschooling, slightly radically, life that the thought of going the complete opposite direction - eek!

It turns out the only reason she wants to do that is because she wants to meet more friends. I suppose the 10 close friends and countless other friends she is exposed to (10, 20, 30 more?) just aren't enough for her. ;-)

Truthfully, she'd never choose to go to school. It would limit the her other interests too much. If she went to school she couldn't do ballet, soccer, swimming and art. She'd probably have to scale down and that's not something she's willing to do...at least not at this point. She actually wants to add to her schedule. She asked when she can take piano lessons. :) I love it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


What do you do when a friend confides in you that her relationship just isn't working? She's not planning on doing anything at the moment, but she just doesn't seem happy with the situation at all.

I've told her that I am here for her. I've told her that if she ever needs a place to go my door is open. I certainly don't want to encourage her to do anything. I just want her to know that she isn't alone. I wonder if I've offered too much? Maybe I shouldn't have said anything. Yes, I'm feeling rather conflicted.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Fairies Are Coming

At least I hope so. My daughter and I spent the afternoon making the coolest fairy house ever. We are reading the Daisy Meadows books starting with the rainbow fairies. In the middle of Amber the Orange Fairy the idea to build a fairy house struck me. We started on the structure then headed out to Michael's Crafts to purchase some essentials. We had a great time creating it and are excited to do more. I've even come up with ideas for making fairies! Fun, fun, fun!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My new desk job

It's not what you're thinking. I'm still a SAHM, but we've had some changes in our lives. My daughter has a rather unusual eating issue. Unusual in the fact that up until less that three weeks ago she didn't eat. Not really anyway. Her intake consisted of milk (unpasteurized/raw whole milk), prune juice (to keep her regular) and the occasional carb (pasta or bagel) in very limited amounts.

We have seen numerous experts with no change. Nobody really knew what to do. All the experts kept telling me that I shouldn't talk to her about our concerns around her eating. They told me that I shouldn't tell her why she is seeing all the professionals. They told me she was too young to comprehend. A dear friend gave me the confidence to talk to our daughter. And she understood. On her level. But she understood. I told her that we are going to try new foods and eat healthy & nutritious meals. She understood and she was okay with it. Wow! Trust your instincts mom. You know your child. You talked and she got it!

Well here we are almost three weeks later. She eats a very limited diet, but is eating so healthy! She tries new foods everyday. The challenge is speed. Now, I am not looking for her to eat fast, but she eats really, really slowly. Breakfast (two scrambled eggs) takes about three hours. Lunch takes about two hours and dinner about the same. I have tried encouraging her to eat faster and swallow sooner only to discover that she has some gagging issues. So, here I sit at the dining room table for hours on end while my child eats - my new desk job. On the up-side I'm getting a lot of knitting time which is good since I am just learning...and I get to post to my blog. The bottom line is that I am ecstatic that she is eating and I need to focus on the joy of that.

Friday, August 1, 2008

My First Rambling

I tend to be a rambler...especially when I am just starting to share. So get comfortable because I don't know how long this will go.

It has been an interesting journey and the journey has just begun. I'm not sure where I'm going with this blog, but I wanted to put my thoughts out there and share our life experiences. We made the decision to homeschool in March of 2007. After shifting things in our life we were able to pull our daughter out of preschool and began homeschooling in mid-April. We all couldn't be happier with our decision.

Being the researcher that I am, making the decision wasn't the end of it. It was such a process for me it is hard to summarize it here. I scoured the internet, joined a bunch of Yahoo groups, read lots of books (love John Holt) and talked to other homeschool moms. During this investigation unschooling found me as well as Unconditional Parenting.

I have found that this way of life is definitely a lot more work and involves an amazing amount of trust...trusting your child, trusting yourself, trusting the process. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. It is also the most worth while thing I could ever do.

So now that we've covered unschooling how about a little non-belief? I am new to the realization that I am a non-believer. I'm not sure why, but it's hard for me to call myself an atheist. I've been a Jew my whole life. Not a religious Jew, but a Jew nonetheless. I haven't really believed in God for a long time but it never occurred to me that I was an atheist.

Years ago I went to a rabbi and asked if God is God, why does he need us to kiss his ass? I mean really, is he that insecure? Every prayer is a prayer telling God how great he is. Come on? Seriously?I got a response from the rabbi, something about how it's really for us - to remind us how great God is...blah, blah, blah. I left feeling unsatisfied. I didn't stay at the synagogue much longer.

Then I met my husband, a non-Jew and an atheist and the love of my life. We met in 2000, got engaged a year later and married a year after that. We had a non-religious ceremony that I wrote myself and it was quite lovely.We now have our daughter who is almost 5 years old. We follow some Jewish traditions in our home. We light candles on Friday night, we have a seder at Passover, we dip apples in honey on Rosh Hashanah, we light candles on Hanukkah and we still eat our traditional "break the fast" meal of bagels and lox on Yom Kippur even though I no longer fast.

We don't have Jewish friends and honestly I've had very few Jewish friends my whole life. I want our daughter to know other Jews and to learn about her heritage without the religious pressure. I don't want to force anything, even non-belief, on her. We have a Humanistic Judaism synagogue in our town. I think that we are going to join so we can find a Jewish community. I still have a lot of questions about how to "do this". I have read some of the revised prayers and I like the changes. It's going to be a transition.

That's probably enough of a ramble for now. Welcome to our unschooling, family loving, non-believing, crazy, fun life blog. There will be ups and downs, but it's a great life and we are living it fully.