Posted in At Home, home education

No Means No: Teaching our children about consent

Have you ever tried to hug someone and they stuck their hand out for you to shake instead? Or, are you the one who offered your hand? Most of the time, as adults, we respect that boundary. But with kids, it’s different. Someone tries to hug a child, the child refuses, and parents will push their child to accept the affection. Sometimes because they’re close to the person, sometimes out of pressure or embarrassment. “Hug your grandma! Give her a kiss!”

Relationships are built over time. As a family member, if you’ve built a strong relationship with a child and they willingly give you hugs and kisses, you’ve earned that! But, if you’re long distance, or your paths don’t cross often, there is no reason to force affection out of, or on to a child.

I’ve been that mom. I’ve told my kids, “give your uncle a hug! He’s your uncle!” Or, “go give everyone a hug goodbye!” I’ve taken my comfortability with family members and pushed it off on them. Just because I would hug someone goodbye doesn’t mean they’re comfortable doing so.

I have one child that is comfortable giving people hugs. The rest of them would prefer to wave, verbally say hello, or shake someone’s hand. Which, I’m totally okay with. I think there’s a line, for sure. It’s definitely rude to walk into someone’s house and ignore them, but I think it’s appropriate for them to verbally greet people or wave hello.

Teaching children that their consent starts in these situations gives them the confidence to know that it extends to other situations as well. I don’t remember ever having intimate discussions with my parents about consent. I do remember a doctor teaching me about which parts were “private parts” and I remember being surprised. I didn’t realize before there were parts of our bodies that we shouldn’t touch on others, or allow others to touch. I don’t think it was intentional or that they didn’t feel it was important to have intimate discussions, it just never happened.

It’s important to go beyond the bounds of your personal comfortability for growth, but consent should never, ever leave the realm of comfortability.  No one should feel uncomfortable being touched or saying no.”

When I was in fourth or fifth grade I had my first real discussion about consent. It was with a friends mother. They lived a few houses down and across the street from me growing up. Some of the boys in the neighborhood had taken to spanking me and popping my bra strap on a regular basis. I was too embarrassed to talk to my parents about it, and worried I’d somehow end up in trouble, so I never did. But, my friend spoke to his mom.

I was terrified when he told me she wanted to talk to me, so I got on my bike and took off down the road. Y’all. This woman got on hers and followed me. When I sat down in a random front yard, she did too. She told me that it was never okay for someone to touch me without consent. I cried because it was the first time I’d ever been told that- even though I knew- and I cried because I honestly thought I was going to get in trouble. She didn’t have to do that, but she did, and she gave me the confidence to speak up.

Learning that you have consent over your own body starts young. It’s not just about teaching children where their “private parts” are, or that people shouldn’t touch them where a bathing suit is worn.

It’s about teaching them that their hands never have to touch someone/something they’re not comfortable with.

It’s about teaching them that someone rubbing their leg or shoulders can be wrong, even if it’s not a “private part”.

It’s about teaching, no matter how difficult, that their mouths too, are their own. It’s about teaching them that hugs and kisses are not a required action when saying hello or goodbye.

It’s about teaching them that it’s okay to say no.

And, it’s about teaching them that when someone else says no, it means no. That it’s just as important to respect others boundaries.

A couple of years ago I created a PDF to help teach your children about consent. You can find it here. Holidays are the perfect time to learn about consent. It’s an opportunity to show our kids that even if the intentions are good, it’s still okay to say no. Not every woman or man touching or hugging a child has bad intentions, but if they feel uncomfortable, it’s okay. It’s important to go beyond the bounds of your personal comfortability for growth, but consent should never, ever leave the realm of comfortability.  No one should feel uncomfortable being touched or saying no.

How do you teach consent in your home?

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Posted in At Home

More of Them, More of Me

A few weeks ago, someone asked if I’d be “going back to work” anytime soon and assumed homeschooling wasn’t something we intended to dedicate our lives to. Unschooling, in particular, requires dedication. With the goal of learning by pursuing interests, we have to make every situation an opportunity to learn. Every question is treated seriously. Sure, I’m like any other mom, when we’ve had a rough day, or it’s late I definitely say, ‘let’s figure it out tomorrow,’ or ‘go ahead and look it up’.

Because I is tired, I is Mom, I is normal-ish. 😉

The truth is, sometimes we forget that just because something is the ‘normal’ or a most common way to do things, that it’s not always the right way for one family, person, or situation. What sounds impossible, wrong, or inconceivable to you, doesn’t mean it is any of those things for another.

It’s been a while since I’ve written something of substance for the blog. I’ve just not felt up to it lately. Haven’t felt connected. Recently, I had two different people tell me they enjoyed the words I’ve put together in these post and it gave me just enough of a boost to get back to it. So, I picked up this piece I started last summer. Yes, last summer. I still feel the same way, and it’s on my heart right now.

When doubt creeps into our minds, and into our lives, remembering what it was like to drop my kids off somewhere and leave them for the day, only to pick them up at dinner time, is usually enough to set me back on track.  To remind me of why we do this.

Sometimes when I’m frustrated with my kids, what I need is more of them.

I know this sounds wild, y’all. Don’t get me wrong. The mere idea of more of your kids when you’re frustrated probably makes your face crumble. Who wants more of their kids when they’re feeling overstimulated? But let me explain.

I recently picked up a full-time job. I was away from my house nine-plus hours a day, for five days straight. Someone else was parenting my children. You might be thinking, “woah, that’s a bit extreme,” but it’s true. For twelve “awake” hours in the day (minus the hours’ small children nap.) someone else was coaching my children on how to behave and was solely responsible for their well-being for nine of them. This, is just one of the many reasons school teachers receive such high praise! They’re raising children!

But, it takes a toll on kids’ ability to follow parental expectations. It’s confusing. Leading to them “forgetting” how to behave when with me. We end up in a constant battle of “so-and-so lets me do it when I’m with them” and “but, you’re home now, and you know what is expected of you here.” 

But, do they?

Can they, as small children, remember and hold fast to the rules of one place and then come home and figure out what you’re expecting of them?

I remember when I wrote this. I felt helpless at home. The kids were spending their day at my mother-in-law’s house while I went to work over the summer. She’s a good parent, and an amazing grandma, but what’s acceptable at home, isn’t necessarily important there and vice-versa.

Rules are hard. Especially when you’re young and there are so many other things that you’re trying to remember. Social expectations and rules that apply to certain locations can be difficult to remember as adults, let alone as a child also learning to do simple things like count and tie their shoes.

During this time Ryder was newly four. I remember meltdowns when he’d get home because I wouldn’t allow TV time. I knew he had unlimited access to games and shows at Grandmas so I would require electronics to be off. We had to get up early, so everyone had to come in, eat, shower and go to bed. I realize that this is natural for some families, but for us, it wasn’t.

I was high-strung and frustrated. I hadn’t seen the kids all day, and instead of wanting to spend every second with them I was barking orders and getting ready to do it all over again the following day. It just didn’t work for our family.

As a parent, and one blessed enough to be able to stay home and teach my kids in a self-paced, loving environment, it’s my job to help my kids not only enjoy their childhood but benefit from it. We weren’t enjoying much during this time.

I needed more of them and they needed more of me. I needed them back into our routine. They needed their normal, and it was up to me to provide that for them again.

Most sources say that kids are able to comprehend rules fully between the ages of five and twelve. Maturity and personality play a big part in that age gap, as well as the intricacy of said rule. When kids are small, we tell them “no” repeatedly and they pick up that touching/tasting something makes adults scowl, so they stop. They don’t understand why, but humans are naturally inclined to please.

I learned that summer, that because I have the ability to stay home with the kids, I could teach them not just to follow blindly, but to understand that there are rules everywhere you go, and no one will ever have the same rules. We learned that structure and routine looks different in every home, and that unschooling and spending time together as a family is what works best for us.

We’re aware that what we do, and how we do it isn’t normal. We are aware that our life isn’t for everyone. We learned that summer that while that extra income was nice, it wasn’t worth the time away from home for me.

We don’t live in a bubble. If my husband lost his job tomorrow and couldn’t get another, I’d get a job. I don’t think our kids would go back to school even then because it’s not part of our plan, but we do well enough to not have that worry right now. We live simply, use all of our resources wisely, and don’t buy new, but we love the people in our life more than things and choose to live this way by choice.

Remembering that summer is always enough to keep me on track.

Are there things in your house that work well for your family that might seem odd or wrong to others?Copy of Remembering why we choose this life (1).png

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Oh, Hey. Remember Me?

I’ve been having a hard time writing here lately. 

I’ve been feeling like, “Who on earth would be interested in the things I have to say here?” and “Why would anyone be interested in the things that go on in our home on a regular basis?” “Why would anyone care about my journey in faith?”

We’ve met some opposition lately. In our unschooling journey, firstly. People who feel like it’s their business to become involved in the what, how, and why of our teaching. So I’ve had to take a step back from this blog and the facebook page, as well as my personal Facebook page. Reducing my time between log-ins to 12-24 hour lapses to help ground myself and the children and what we’re doing. Why we’re doing it.

Secondly, in the past few months, I’ve had things happen that have made me question my own faith, as well as the faith I’ve put in others I’ve been soul searching since my last post, and I’m still looking. Still searching for where I belong when it comes to community and friends, but mostly with how I fit myself into what I’ve always assumed was a square-shaped faith box.

I’ve clearly lost the passion that drove me in the beginning, because, it’s not about who will read, or who is interested. This is a personal, family blog. This is a neatly organized scrapbook of events, stories, and struggles. This is the place where I share my opinion on faith and life.

I’m sorry, to anyone who does read posts, for being so absent. Hopefully, I’ll find the drive to share again soon. ❤

Posted in Faith

Q & A with God

It’s been roughly six years since I came to Christ. Not a long time by any means, but long enough that I’ve become comfortable enough in my faith to ask questions. Maybe it doesn’t take years for other people to ask the nagging, clawing questions inside their brains, maybe some people don’t even have questions about their faith. But I did, and still do sometimes.

Don’t misread, I believe Christ is our one, true savior. My faith is wholly in Him, but I do have questions.

When I was about seventeen I said, out loud and multiple times, that I didn’t believe in Christ. My unbelief was based on my feelings of being forgotten, and well, just not getting what I wanted.

When I sought out Godly relationships and a community in church I didn’t ask questions and I tried to mimic as best as possible what “good Christians” do. I volunteered, kept my house as clean as possible, (‘Cause that’s what matters and all.) cut out secular music and shows, disciplined my children like good, American, Christians should, and only recently did I consider that maybe, the front of being a good, American, Christian was just that– a fake exterior hiding real people, real sins, and an array of personalities, beliefs, and looks.

Questions were bouncing around in my head. Questions about why I chose to do things in the name of faith, questions about why I became a Christian in the first place. Questions about why I was so happy to blindly believe the things I read in the Bible without asking the big, looming question that I now realize isn’t a bad question.

Why God? Not, “Why are you doing this?”, not “Why did so-and-so do this?”, but the deeper almost taboo questions.

Why? 

Why should I believe? 

Why should I trust?

Why should I follow?

And, yes, I know I could find quick, one lined verses in the Bible that I could take out of context and apply to myself as though God is speaking directly to me, but let’s be real. The majority of the time He and the authors were addressing a person or a specific group of people. But, these stories are references of real people who sometimes asked hard questions and took the long way around, to get to God, providing insight and guidance for our trip.

So, in the midst of my months of questions, I was afraid to voice aloud for fear of angering God or asking someone who would be ready to judge me for my need to seek answers, I was asked to lead a Sunday School class using Beth Moore’s, The Quest. Now, I don’t particularly enjoy Beth Moore. I have a hard time listening to her or reading the things that she writes and I wasn’t convinced I’d get much out of it, however, this entire study is on asking questions that aren’t normally asked.

Yup.

Ya, know, like a slap in the face. “Hey! Wanna know what I think about you asking questions you’re too afraid to actually ask out loud or in prayer? Ha! I gotcha now!”

At one point in the videos a woman Beth is speaking with asks if it’s okay to question God or only your personal faith? Beth venomously says no, that you shouldn’t question God.

But, wait.

So I can only ask nice questions or questions that are kinda hard, but not really hard?

I think anyone with a working knowledge of the Bible knows that hard questions are asked in the Bible and probably so we don’t have to ask them, but…

We’re broken.

We’re fallen.

We’re misguided.

We’re sinful.

So I started to ask the hard questions. Questions like, “If God is perfect, why does He have emotions? Wouldn’t perfection equate the ability to not get angry or sad?” Maybe in our world of sinners, and my pastor quickly pointed out that I’m projecting what I would consider perfection onto God, who, is already perfect and tells us emotions aren’t sinful, rather our reactions are.

And other questions like:

Why do I do this? Why do I get up on Sundays and fight with the kids?

Why do I sit in a pew and remind them continually to be quiet if I could be home, letting them run around outside while I enjoyed my Sunday?

Why do I spend countless hours teaching other children when my life could be easier without Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings?

Why do I have to feel called to these things?

I asked the questions, realizing, that it’s okay to ask God ANY questions, so long as you realize you may, in turn, get a harsh answer.

Like so many examples in the Bible. But, one of the most powerful is in Job, when the people in his life question God, and his motives.

Tell me, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job 38:4

And that’s where it starts, the harsh answer that is, that is really answering a question with many questions, and while God specifically answers Job (Even though he’s not the one that asked the question.) it’s quite an answer that’s given in roughly four chapters starting in Job 38. God’s answer comes across as almost sarcastic, “WHERE WERE YOU?” So THAT’S where I get it from!

You wanted to argue with God All-Powerful. You wanted to correct me and prove that I was wrong. So give me your answer!” Job 40:2 

Uh, yikes.

The answers to my questions aren’t “because it’s the right thing to do” or “that’s what good Christians do” like modern Christianity would like us to believe. My answers have been the realization that this isn’t about me. It’s not about how I could make life easier, not about having a perfect relationship with his people inside of my church. It’s about His love, and how I choose to share it with others.

It’s about asking the hard questions that feel taboo so I have the answers I seek and the ability to use them to further my faith and others and to understand my faith to the best of my earthly abilities and be able to share my testimony.

Eves need for answers to questions drove her from the garden, but that’s a pivotal moment for Christians and an example that God will answer all of our questions good, or bad.

Don’t let your fear of judgment from others or societies view of Christianity stop you from asking hard questions, so long as you’re asking them with an open heart, willing to receive whatever answer God has for you.

Without questioning first God’s existence, and then my faith I wouldn’t have the answers to why I chose to believe and follow Christ today.

Do you ask God tough questions? Or question your faith or the things you do for your faith?

Posted in Uncategorized

Step One: Run Until You Catch on Fire

I like to run until I burn. Running so fast smoke starts to billow against my windblown skin until finally, a flame kindles and then bursts into a raging fire burning its course and leaving me burnt out and charred. I do it every couple of months. I run ragged, and I don’t mean like, cross country, miles on a treadmill running, I mean filling my days with countless activities, parties, and trips to the store while towing along all five kids. It gets exhausting for me, for them, and probably for Herman too. For a few months, I spend every waking out doing something. Then one morning I wake up and realized I’ve pushed me and the kids too far. None of them want to get up and go, and neither do I.One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the ability to go at our own pace and set boundaries for myself, but I find myself constantly forgetting to do that until I’m on fire, and burning to slow burning embers, glowing with the last of my energy, until I end up ashes on the floor.

It’s been like that the past few months, and I think I’ve turned to ash along with my kids that are appearing a little more gray than usual. Our weekly church activities have come to a close for the summer and as much as I love the kids and the time spent with all of them, it will be so nice not to spend my Wednesdays preparing for the evening lessons. It will give me time to spend in prayer about where I see my family in terms of roles at the church into the next year and give my brain a break from children’s bible lessons. (Joke’s on me since I still have five at home and VBS is around the corner.)

I realize it’s been quite some time since I’ve updated here and that comes from two places:

  1. I’ve been writing a book. I’m not ready to elaborate on that, but when I am, you’ll know and my word count here will probably increase since it will decrease on Word.
  2. Refer to above paragraphs. I’m burnt out and spent. I’m ready for the slow summer that’s inevitable since I don’t enjoy or feel comfortable taking the kids too many places during the summertime when all of our hot-spots are overly-crowded.

We’ve filled our months with growing seeds and transplanting them to a garden, raising chickens that are giving us pretty (and yummy eggs) and we joined a new co-op group with some friends we met through girl scouts, and it’s been the best fit for us as far as homeschool groups go, yet. I have still been sharing tidbits in pictures and short sentences on Instagram and Facebook so if you don’t follow us there, please do! Here are some pictures of what we’ve been filling our time with to catch you all up.

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The beginnings of our garden (a couple months ago) and the girls feeding and watering the chickens

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A more recent picture of the larger garden after we transplanted.

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Ella got herself 50 stitches in a fight with a fence. 😉

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Summertime swimming is back!

Posted in Faith

“I’ll Pray for You”– but Will You?

People have been arguing since the beginning of time. The disciples fought over who was the greatest, and I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure there was quite the argument between Adam and Eve at least once…

“Salty” is the new “petty” and I think the reversed meaning of “bless your heart” is also being replaced. As Christianity becomes increasingly whittled down to fit into today’s society, a common thing we see is the phrase “I’ll pray for you” thrown out without any real intention behind it, primarily during an argument but also jokingly when speaking to a friend.
I'll Pray for You
“I’ll pray for you” is plastered all over shirts and other merchandise with a sarcastic undertone that basically says, “I don’t like you/your behavior/your situation,” or a not-so-subtle way to say, “I’m better than you because I know Jesus.” Whether this is what you mean to say while walking around with a shirt that says “I’ll pray for you” in pretty script letters, it’s what’s being conveyed.

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.” Matthew 6:5

Jesus does call on us to pray for our friends, family, and enemies alike, and maybe when you’re in the midst of an argument, you do use the phrase sincerely or when someone vents about their struggles you let them know you’ll be praying… and then you DO. That’s wonderful, and what prayer is meant to be. However, if you’re comeback or knee-jerk reaction to an argument or hate is “I’ll pray for you,” and you intend to “kill them with kindness” but you’ve never actually sat down and talked to God about the problem in private— don’t say it. Just DO it. Kindness and prayer come from love, not from anger or annoyance.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:20-21

I promise, even if the relationship is never mended, your heart and mind will be through prayer and any anger you’ve felt will be washed away. Through speaking your fears, pain, and worries to Him, you will find a solution and forgiveness.
Don’t say it, do it.

When telling others,  “I’ll pray for you” becomes something it’s not, it puts a negative connotation on prayer and will cause people to see prayer as a jab in response to discord. Prayer can and does solve problems. Telling people you’re going to pray for them does not. Prayer is a conversation with God that may very well reveal that, in fact, you were the one in the wrong.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Do you, or have you ever owned a shirt or other merchandise with this phrase? Did you see the meaning behind it as a sincere promise to pray for your brothers and sisters or as a sarcastic remark? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

What I Learned in My First Year of Blogging

When I first started researching, I read through so much information, and most commonly post about, “what I’ve learned after a year” or “do this before you start blogging,” and most of it I just pushed to the side, because I like to do things my own way. Some of it, though, I should have paid more attention to, and here are the top three things I wish I knew (and actually applied) when I began:

What i wish I knew1.png

1. Don’t go public until it’s exactly what you want. When I started out, I stuck with the layout chosen for me, was still sorting through the colors I wanted to use, and playing with branding for my site, and changed it all just a few week in… more than once. I also didn’t do the best job of checking my spelling and grammar, which for me, still makes me cringe. I’m a grammar buff, but I don’t always catch my mistakes. I was so excited to go live, I just jumped and then was still finding errors that were plain silly months later. Which leads me to number two…

2. Invest in Grammarly!!! Seriously, just do it. I started with the free version a few months after I began blogging, and went back through every post and fixed them. What a mess. I guess I could have used Word to check my spelling and grammar, but copy and paste didn’t dawn on me… I also didn’t pay for Microsoft until my husband started his own company. I promise this isn’t an ad, and I also promise Grammarly will change your writing– the paid version will recognize not only spelling, but grammatical errors, commonly overused words, and words you, specifically, use too often. It extends to your email, Facebook, or anything else you use on the inter-web.

3. Save posts you’ve written at about the same time for another day. When you’re on your writing game, you’ll pound out posts left and right. Posting them immediately can cause two things:

a. They won’t get equal attention, and if monetizing your blog is something you’re hoping to achieve (one of my goals, but not my reason for blogging) in the future, you’ll want the stats to be consistent.

b. You have nothing to fill times of writer’s block or busyness.

For example, all through December and almost all of January, I wrote only one post. When I realized my brain was over-stimulated, I took a purposeful break. When I opened up WordPress again, I wrote not three, but FOUR posts within the span of a few hours. I released them slowly in case I got caught up in life again. Publishing them all at once would also deter people from reading each one. That’s a substantial chunk of time they’d have to spend reading each post, or they’d have to remember to go back and read where they left off, assuming they remember. You will have your avid followers that read no matter what, but to grab the attention of others, you’ll want to “market” or showcase one post at a time.

So, don’t be like me! Nip future mistakes in the bud by learning from my mess. Do you have any favorite blogging resources? Share them in the comments!

It’s been a good year, and I can’t wait to see what I learn in the next one. Maybe by this time next year, I’ll be paying my electric bill with words… maybe. 😉