Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More on homeschooling

Homeschooling is still a hot topic in the Eger household. Recent events at Nate's preschool is making me feel even more like it is the right choice for us. But even more, it came up in conversation with my parents and I was blown away at the support they had for homeschooling! I was SO excited! I think that was the biggest block. I mean, like it or not, they play a pretty big role in our lives and my kids lives. Not having their blessing would be very difficult for me.

I have a few thoughts on it I'd like to share that have come up recently in conversation and my reading. Like I've mentioned before, socialization is the biggest worry people have. Which I find quite ironic considering that the purpose of school is not to socialize, but it's supposed to be educated. But there's a phenomenon in school that I experienced growing up, as well as Phil, and most people. Yes there are exceptions, but how is learning viewed by peers? Who were the nerdy kids? The smart ones. What kind of backwards socialization is that? Where people value fitting in as opposed to learning. Why would we value that kind of socialization? Of course there are other benefits to socialization, I'm not saying it's all bad.

I read an article that pointed out that the reason many people think that homeschoolers are weird is because they are curious and there's no one to trump that curiosity. They aren't ridiculed for thinking math problems aren't hard enough and wanting more difficult ones. They're not praised by their peers for getting low grades (though for the most part, my peers encouraged each other to have good grades, there were a few times where I wanted to fit in with the cooler kids and bragged about my bad grades...but also for the record, I was an honor roll student in every semester of high school. Not that it matters, but my point is that I didn't try to be a bad student and I know not everyone does). Also, how many times did you get an answer wrong and get laughed at so were more reluctant to raise your hand again?

It's an interesting cycle because the socialization you learn from school is what makes people think that you need socialization. Does that make it right? In other words, homeschooling requires a lot of thinking outside of the box, thinking outside of the norm. Do I fit in being a homeschool mom? In some circles, yes. But for the majority, no. If I gave into the peer pressure I learned in school, I wouldn't want to homeschool, or birth at home either. So what I'm trying to say is that saying that someone needs socialization that you can only learn from public school when those people went to public school does not make a compelling argument for me. Do I want my kids to think like everyone else? Or do I want them to be successful? Do people get successful by following the crowd? Or by working hard and not being afraid of failure. I want to homeschool so that my kids have the courage to follow their dreams.

Lastly, what is the purpose of life? To be happy. If my kids are "weird" because they're homeschooled and they're not constantly surrounded by their friends to tell them they're weird, are they going to be unhappy? Probably not. But if they're surrounded by other homeschooled friends that don't think they're weird, but normal, then who's to say that they are really weird? I'm sure that many many smart and successful people were weird. If being weird means they are able to think independently and not worry about what other people's think then in my opinion, the weirder the better!!!!

Anyway, that's all for today. That was just on my mind a lot today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Organization

Being organized is something I have severely struggled with my whole life. As I get older it seems like I get better at it every year, but it is still something I struggle with. I have talked about it a little bit, but it's something I want to hide...like most things you don't like about yourself. But it's something that I really really want to change. Here are some observations I have made about myself and my habits:


  • Usually the problem I have is that when I move into a new place, I never really get it organized the way I want in the first place. 
  • If my cupboards are not organized, when I clean, I don't really feel like it's clean. It feels like I've just covered it up. 
  • My mom is very organized and sometimes she has helped me organize my house. But the problem with her helping is that she doesn't throw things away. Obviously because she can't help me organize and ask every five seconds "do you really need this?" haha! So what I end up with is organized chaos. 
  • Every time we move we throw so much away, but it's never enough. We have still held on to too many things that we don't need. 
  • Phil's mom has given us a TON of stuff and I've noticed that I don't want to get rid of it because I feel like it would be rude to do, but I realize that she would rather have us have a de-cluttered house than all the stuff she has given us. She only gives it to us because she thinks we might need it. So I know she won't really be offended if I get rid of something we don't need. 
  • I have a hard(er) time giving away or throwing away gifts.
  • The top of my fridge piles up crap because that's where we end up putting stuff we don't want the kids to reach...then we never look at it. 
  • I do laundry, then my brain tells me I don't have to do it again for a week (my mom used to do all the laundry on her day off once a week so I have in my head that's how my house will be....it's so not how my house should be haha!). Then a week passes and I don't even realize it. Then I get in a cycle of only washing the laundry that we need and leaving blankets, clothes that don't really fit the kids anymore, etc and then the dirty laundry piles up and then it gets mixed with clean clothes. 
  • Because my cabinets, closets, etc are not organized, my kids get into things I don't want to (nothing dangerous. I make sure that everything dangerous is out of reach) and my life becomes cleaning up the messes they make because they can get into the things I should have rearranged and organized so that they can't get to it. 
Ok so I think you get my point. An interesting thing I kind of had a realization of the other night while watching Hoarders is that I could have ended up becoming a hoarder. Because a lot of the things the people say I can totally understand what they are feeling. When I was little I used to attach unnecessary meaning to things that brought sentimental emotions. One time when I was young my sister put a bunch of things in a box and I asked her what she was doing and she said something along the lines of  "just getting rid of my childhood" I'm sure it was worded differently, but it was something like that. There was this cute little turtle piggy bank that was in the box so I took it because I felt bad for it. Like someone should be holding on to her childhood for her. Now I look at it and see how silly that is. I don't attach much meaning to things anymore. Sometimes I've saved Christmas cards and stuff like that. My mom (who is definitely not a hoarder for the record) saves funny things like ticket stubs to a concert, brochures from places we've visited, etc and puts them in scrapbooks. So I know that saving insignificant things stems from watching her do that. But now I'm mature enough to realize what I really want to save and what is garbage. Anyway moving on. A repeating thing I have noticed in watching Hoarders is that the hoarding was triggered by something. Their parents got divorced, they lost a loved one, they were victims of abuse, etc. So I came to the realization that I could have been a hoarder if something big like that happened in my life. I am SO grateful that it didn't happen! My aunt is a hoarder. She's not as bad as some of the people on that show by any means, but it has always been a fear of mine to end up like that. I think being aware of that has also helped me be smart about it. 

I have been ready for a change. Honestly, my house is not that bad. I have people over often. It has never been in a state where I couldn't get it all clean in a day. It's not like I hide in my shame and never do anything about it. The problem I have is that it gets messy FAST. I'm constantly doing the same thing over and over and can never get to the root of the problem. I am just cleaning the outsides and not the insides. Make sense? 

So I found this book at the library about organizing your house. I have only read part of the first chapter, but it gave me the advice I needed. De-clutter. That is exactly what I needed to do. First and foremost is just get rid of everything that I do not need or don't use. If I get rid of something I ended up needing, it's easier to go buy things as you need them than to hold on to things you may use in the future. So today I dragged the garbage can and a DI box around and just purged everything I didn't need. Finally cleared off the top of the fridge, threw away all the papers I didn't need, got rid of many dishes (the less dishes we have, the less dishes that will pile up in the sink). I cleaned out the cabinet above the fridge to put mess causers in. I organized and cleared out the coat closet, the linen closet, and most importantly, the bathroom!! That was one of the biggest sources of stress because Audrey LOVES the bathroom for some weird reason and just makes a giant mess in there in a matter of minutes. So I put everything that can smear in the linen closet across the hall high enough so they can't reach, totally cleared off the shelf that is reachable from the counter that Audrey climbs up onto. I thought I would get to a lot more today, but all of that took a really long time. It feels SO good to finally have that done! 

I'm almost done rambling I promise. There was one thing the book said that I totally identified with. When your house is cluttered you lose energy. It is SO true! Having a clean uncluttered house unclutters your mind too! Having a husband that struggles with clinical depression, having a clean house is vital to his mental health. To everyone in this house's mental health really! 

I am really committed to getting organized. If I can really get to a place where I am 100% organized it's going to get much easier to live the life I want to live and not be weighed down anymore. I'm sad to admit that often times I haven't taken my kids out to do fun activities because I "need to clean my house first" UGH! (I do take them out, don't get me wrong, but I want to do it more). 

If you have made it this far down this post, feel free to leave some tips and tricks you have found that have made it easier for you to keep an organized house. :D I have come so far, but still have a way to go. But the task is not so big that it's overwhelming anymore. That's the reason I'm posting is so I don't lose the motivation. If I keep it to myself, no one has to know that I never followed through :D 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Need parenting advice again

Ok here's the situation: A couple weeks ago Nate's preschool had a "cowboy" day where everyone came dressed up as a cowboy. First of all, Nate did NOT want to put on a cowboy costume. That's actually what he was supposed to be for Halloween too, but didn't want to dress up then either. So that was one thing. I dropped him off at school and about twenty minutes later his school calls me because they couldn't calm him down. I thought it was because I snuck his cowboy vest on him via his jacket (yeah mommy fail). But after I apologized for doing that I convinced Nate to take us to his classroom to show Audrey. And he reluctantly agreed (he had been asking over and over if we could go home which is SO out of character for him. He LOVES school). He walked in the door and started freaking out because he didn't like that everyone was dressed as a cowboy. The preschool director said that occasionally that happens where kids have an idea of how the world is supposed to be and when that changes it gives them anxiety. Now every time I drop him off at school he goes "there are no cowboys here!" Every single day. It's like he's looking for reassurance that everything is normal.

I've noticed this in other areas as well. Sometimes we like to play a game where we sing a song, but then sing the wrong lyrics and then laugh and sing the right ones. If I don't sing the right ones, he FREAKS out. He has been evaluated at the Children's center before and they check for everything from ADD to depression to Autism and he didn't have anything like that. They said he was very normal. 

So this is where I need help. I have tried to google anxiety and all that comes up with is disorders. I know he doesn't have an anxiety disorder. I just want to understand why he is acting that way so I can redirect him and talk him through things, or even just to understand that it's normal and will go away. Has anyone ever seen anything like this before? I don't know what to do because I know it's nothing serious. I know I can call the pediatrician so I'm not looking for that advice. I'm just wondering if anyone has ever heard of this before. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Intervention

I need an intervention. Or perhaps just a job outside of the home. Because it's 3 am and I'm awake. Why? Because it's so nice and quiet. No one's causing me anxiety by climbing on the counter and sticking their finger in sour cream and then rubbing it on their foot (which I caught Audrey doing today within literally seconds of starting to do it), no one is crying, no one is saying "mommy watch this" over and over and over and when I look up all they do is run across the couch, no one is crawling on me and pulling on my shirt, and there's no background music teaching life lessons or ABC's. I hated alone time growing up. Well, not necessarily. But I would choose being around others any day over being alone. Now I relish the moments I am. The middle of the night is the only time of day where I get to go up to 4 hours without breastfeeding. Which I am so over by the way. I wish I knew how to happily wean Audrey because I am soooooo sick of it. But I feel like weaning her is going to cause her some sort of emotional damage or something. So I keep doing it despite.

Needless to say, I need a serious break. I love my kids so freaking much. More than you'd ever comprehend. They're wonderful and beautiful, but all good things should come in moderation right? haha! So since I need an intervention to go to bed early, I think that a vacation is just the intervention I need. :D Good thing I have a husband that is encouraging me to go to NYC by myself to visit our best friend. I just wish the stupid flights would be open enough one weekend so I can go! Come on! Soon I'm not going to have both Saturday and Sunday off (which will be a sad sad day!!!).

Well, I'm off to bed now. Hopefully my kids will sleep in like normal and nothing will interrupt that! Wish me luck! Tomorrow can potentially be a very long day...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homeschooling

This is going to be a hard post for me to make because anything I say or do out of what is normal and comfortable people get offended and/or defensive. So as a disclaimer: I am not judging you, I do NOT care what choices you make for your children, I actually have never cared about any choices that ANYONE has made in their life EVER and I am not a judgmental person. Because I am very very aware that every single one of my friends that has children LOVES their children. Choices made out of love are good choices.

Second disclaimer: I hate when people assume that choices I make are because of Phil. Like I can't make my own decisions and I leave it up to Phil. He may suggest something and I do my own research on it, but I don't just blindly follow him. Homeschooling is one of those things that Phil has suggested, but I was against it at first. But after my own research am beginning to believe it may be the best option.

Moving on.

I want to talk about homeschooling because it has been on my mind a lot lately. I am open for suggestions, opinions and thoughts. Just please keep them nice and don't be offended if I give my opinion back. But more than anything, I want people to understand why I am considering this as an option for my family. So I am going to address comments I've recieved, and my own fears:

1-It's going to be harder than you think:
Everything I have ever done in my life I got that answer "it's going to be harder than you think." Marriage, having kids, buying a house, getting a job, going to college. Every one of those I got that comment for. And guess what, none of those were as hard as I thought. I mean granted, they're all very difficult and they all require enormous amounts of work, but I managed. I am worried that homeschooling will be difficult. But anything worth doing in life is difficult.

I also believe that this comment is stemmed from this belief that homeschooling needs to be exactly like regular school. Parents are devoting 7 hours a day to constantly teaching their kids. That's not even close to how homeschooling goes. Homeschool is a 24-7 event. In fact, most of traditional schooling kids are homeschooled. Anything you learn is education. How much of that learning is done in the home?

A big fear of mine has been time. When will I have time to teach them if we're working? Then I realized, there's no summer break. Homeschool doesn't have a set curriculum on a time schedule. There is plenty of time to teach.

*side note, I will probably still be in school when Nate is at kindergarten age. If they have to go to a babysitter I'm not going to send my 5 year old to it. I will put him in school. It only makes sense. So I just want to make it clear that this is not a decision that is 100%. I just hope that the resources allow me to do so.

2-Social interactions:
This is by FAR the biggest concern among people that are against homeschooling. It's the first thing that every single person says. I am the first to admit, I haven't completely formulated my explanation for this one. Mostly because I do not know what homeschooling will be like. I know what I want to do and what I hope to accomplish, but I have not looked into the homeschooling community enough to be able to say "oh we will be part of a homeschooling group and they will be exposed to many different children" Or something along those lines. One of my best friends is going to homeschool as well and together I am positive we will be able to come up with many ways to expose our children to people.

Anyway this is my current explanation, and I'm sure it will change as I learn more about homeschooling. First of all, school is the only place that you are forced to interact only with people you're age. Where else in the world does that happen? There are valid reasons for interacting with people your age, but I believe it does more bad than actual good. It causes you to compare yourself to other people your age. Let's just use Phil as an example. He has this comparing complex more than other people I have seen. He looks at someone like Skrillex and thinks "oh my gosh he's only 23 and I'm 27!" and his self esteem drops a few points. (FYI he is just as awesome as Skrillex if you ask me!!!). But you can understand why I would see this as a negative thing. But it happens all the time. People getting depressed because they're not married and all of their friends the same age are. I've seen people rush to have babies because their friends are (an observation and assumption on my part, not fact). I look at my friends now, and the ones who are in the same situation as me are the ones I'm closer friends with. Friends with kids my kids age, married etc. Not necessarily based on age. Another down side: peer pressure. I'm not talking about drugs or doing bad things. I'm talking about the kind of peer pressure the goverment just LOVES. They want you to care about what other people think. They want you to fit into the mold. They want you to shy away from doing something different, from standing out. I mean half of the reason I have such a hard time with this decision is because of peer pressure. I truly feel like it's the better option. If I cared about peer pressure, I would never have had a home birth. And that was one of the most amazing expeiriences of my life.

I'm positive my kids will still have many interactions and form many friends their age. But those will be voluntary interactions. School is forced. You don't have a choice on who is in your class. You do not have a choice who you interact. You can argue that in the work place you also don't have a choice and that school prepares you to deal with difficult people. It is true that you don't have a choice who you work with.....but is it? You don't HAVE to work there. You are not forced to work at a particular place. You may not have a ton of options on other places to work, but that's just it. There are options. In school. There are no options. Do I still work at the hospital? NO! BECAUSE of the people I had to interact with there. It was a volitile environment. So I quit. I deal with stupid people ALL the time working for jetblue. The difference is that I talk to them for 5 minutes and I never ever have to hear from them again. Ever. School, in absolutely NO way prepared me to interact with the people I have to deal with at Jetblue. Real life experience did. The people that call in are so incredibly different from the people I grew up with. But the traveling I have done is what has helped me understand the people the very most. It's the only way I can understand them. So that's why I believe exposing my children to many different types of people of all ages will prepare them for the real world. Not to mention the fear of authority that school can often, but not always, create. It did for me.

Ok, now the negative interactions. Bullies. We all agree that bullies are bad. And that if we can prevent our children from being around bullies, it will be beneficial. I don't care what kind of argument about helping children deal with the real world...that's just not a valid opinion in my mind. I just can't see how that would help them deal with the real world. I can only see how it will hurt. That just seems like a bad justification. In reality, the way I see it is that bullies dealt with in school, are, once again, forced. So instead of getting away from them (which is the true way a bully should be handled), you learn to deal with them. So when faced with them as an adult, you are more inclined to deal with them for a longer period of time. BUT I can only speak for myself. I feel that in my situation at the hospital I dealt with stupid crap and stupid women longer than I needed to.

All that being said, I think we over value social interactions. Weird kids come from weird parents. If you think we're weird, then I guess we're going to create weird kids.

3. Curriculum and structure.
I'm pretty nervous about making sure that my kids get all the education they need, but then I remember that infinite resource that is the internet. Yes there is a lot of misinformation out there, but I could argue that school gives a lot of misinformation as well. They leave things out and leave a lot of gaps. Off the top of my head the example that comes to mind is Columbus. I never once learned in school how violent he really was. Why do they leave that out of the curriculum? So that we feel like our country was founded on honesty? Schools are funded by our taxes. Government money. So why would I not believe that they would feed us information that would help them? Leaving pieces of information out. It only makes me wonder what else was left out. Perhaps the fact that the structure of our schools is based off the Prussian system that other countries also adopted such as Nazi Germany. Actually, I also learned that the reason schools use bells is to get people comfortable with working in factories. And they still haven't changed it. What good does learning a subject for an hour do anyway? As soon as the bell rings you don't have to think about that subject again until the next day. I can't tell you how many times I went to class the next day and the teacher asks "does anyone remember what we learned yesterday?" and everyone had forgotten. And testing, what good does testing do? I do not remember ONE thing from my high school history class because he would give us the test with the answers on it the day before, we'd memorize the answers, and I didn't even have to pay attention to what the test was asking. Ok yeah, he just wasn't a very effective teacher and not all of my classes were like that. What I would rather do is spend our family vacations going to where the history happened and learn about it that way. Being able to experience where it happened sticks with you much more than memorizing answers on a test. Same goes for other subjects. I think most people learn better by doing something than memorizing answers. Thats why the lab part of a class is so effective. Homeschool is like the lab part of class for every subject.



I know there are other questions and things I haven't addressed, but I just wanted to give a few examples of why this is a choice we are considering. I am not trying to recruit anyone, I'm just trying to help people understand. Just like home birth, homeschool is not for everyone. :D