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#1 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A comment on another thread got me to thinking.

Leaving out things like other people's criticisms of unschooling and just looking at our day to day lives, do you find unschooling hard to do or is it an easygoing, flowing life?

One of the reasons we live this way is for the flow that occurs--the feeling that everyone is doing just what they need to be doing. I find it freeing. I also like the challenge to be creative (like when one of my kids wants to learn some obscure skill and we Google and network with everyone we've ever met in order to try and find an opportunity to learn it.)

I think sometimes that unschooling is looked down upon because we don't struggle and we do what we enjoy. It's as if, for some, if it isn't hard, it doesn't have value. (Maybe that stems from a Protestant work ethic?)

So, do you think unschooling is hard work?

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#2 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 10:42 AM
 
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#3 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 12:54 PM
 
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It's so much easier than any other option which would have me butting heads with ds constantly or trying to work our natural rhythm into society's schedules.

Few things about my child are "easy" so depending on who said unschooling was easy and my mood, I might be annoyed at the statement because it could be dismissive.

But I agree, there seems to be this belief that easy is bad and things should be hard to have worth. And I really don't agree with that. I'm sure the pervasive Protestant work ethic has something to do with it. It's ok for things to be easy. Then there is the belief that people with high incomes work hard so they deserve it, as if people with lower incomes don't work as hard.

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#4 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 01:00 PM
 
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well its not an easy way out lol jk
for us, it works. I gave up a while ago really worrying about what others think to a big degree. I love having time with my children, learning, etc. I am now working fulltime outside the house, I work later shifts so I am home with them more. But if they were in public or private I would never see them. So that is just an added bonus for us I like being the one my kids ask the important questions too, and love where our conversations lead. I work this week 3:30-12:30 so we are heading out to ollie koalas for a bit. today school is out in public schools so there will be kids there etc. But overall its normally nice and quiet lol. but no, i dont think its easy because I am with my children so much more and not dropping them off somewhere for periods of time so they can learn. we learn together like a family
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#5 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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I haven't been feeling well lately, and I do think it's harder for me to feel like I'm giving my kids what they need (what I see as my role in unschooling) when I want to spend all day on the sofa. I do think it might be "easier" in some ways if I had a curriculum with a list of assignments for the day so that I could tell myself at the end of the day that we accomplished something today, or at least could come up with a plan to make up whatever we "missed".

But overall, I think of unschooling as this amazing secret-- it absolutely astonishes me what my kids learn without the hassle of "doing school". Everything from how best to turn our upstairs hallway into a restaurant for stuffed animals to learning a bunch about amphibians (including correcting their Dad at dinner when he called a gecko an amphibian ).

My main struggles with unschooling are when I worry that there isn't enough discipline in my kids' lives, because my oldest will sometimes struggle with not getting her own way in groups or will refuse to respond to even very simple requests (like brushing her hair-- I imagine an RU family would let that go, but I'm not RU, and I can't let her walk around in public with nasty knots sticking out in all directions.) I wonder if she had more structure to her days if it would be easier for her to do something other than what she wants to do right this second.

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#6 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 01:04 PM
 
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I think it's easy. I read online a lot that it's so hard, or only hard if you do it "right" or whatever. That just hasn't been my experience. It's definitely the easiest option for us.
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#7 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 01:23 PM
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I think it's pretty easy, too. There have been periods when parenting my child was harder, and I suppose since she was not in school I had to deal with that for more hours a day than I would have had she been in school... but mostly it's easier to not have to get her to do things she doesn't choose to do, because she's always sort of dug in her heels about things she didn't want.. so it was much easier to just go with her.

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#8 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dar View Post
I think it's pretty easy, too. There have been periods when parenting my child was harder, and I suppose since she was not in school I had to deal with that for more hours a day than I would have had she been in school... but mostly it's easier to not have to get her to do things she doesn't choose to do, because she's always sort of dug in her heels about things she didn't want.. so it was much easier to just go with her.
It sounds like you are talking about my daughter here.
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#9 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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I have the same difficulty answering this question that I'd have answering whether it's hard or easy being a parent, and for the same reasons. Unschooling (or parenting) becomes part of your life and who you are. It becomes how you live. Sometimes life flows, sometimes it doesn't. Your unschooling or your parenting is never set aside -- it's a constant consideration, an ongoing obsession, a part of everything. You can't stand back and wonder "if I wasn't living my life this way would things be easier or harder?" because that's really another way of asking "if I wasn't who I am, would my life be simpler?"

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#10 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 02:24 PM
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It sounds like you are talking about my daughter here.
Well then, I should warn you that 12 was rough, and the entire 11-13 period was not so great... but after that everything has been lovely.

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#11 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 02:29 PM
 
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I find that I need to stay VERY present in order to help things run smoothly.

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#12 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
You can't stand back and wonder "if I wasn't living my life this way would things be easier or harder?" because that's really another way of asking "if I wasn't who I am, would my life be simpler?"

Miranda
Well, trying to imagine if this is harder than living in a way I haven't yet tried would be impossible. But we HAVE lived differently, and it WAS harder, so it's not so much wondering on my part as it is a concrete comparison.

I'm not sure I understand the second part of your statement though. Whether my kids go to school, or homeschool or unschool doesn't change who I am.

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#13 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 02:57 PM
 
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I find unschooling to be easy peasy. Natural, wonderful and organic.

There are aspects of Radical Unschooling that are a bit challenging but I find the whole of that to be fairly easy as well. At least compared to the way we did things before, this is a walk in the park!

ETA: I wonder if the number of kids you have has a connection to the difficulty level...

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#14 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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Well, trying to imagine if this is harder than living in a way I haven't yet tried would be impossible. But we HAVE lived differently, and it WAS harder, so it's not so much wondering on my part as it is a concrete comparison.
I was trying to explain why I find this a difficult question to answer.

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I'm not sure I understand the second part of your statement though. Whether my kids go to school, or homeschool or unschool doesn't change who I am.
For me, unschooling is a set of beliefs and a philosophy of life, not an educational method. Something I grew into naturally because of my life experiences and my beliefs about human beings. It's an inseparable part of being who I am. One of my kids actually does go to school at this point (albeit in a very unschoolish program that gives her pretty complete freedom -- she's actually left school for a couple of months and is in Thailand or Burma right now) ... but we still live in the unschooling life as a family.

This is probably not true for all unschoolers. But I find it impossible to imagine living differently and to compare. If we were to swear off unschooling, we would be a very different family, governed by a very different set of beliefs. I'm sorry if my non-answer was not very helpful to you.

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#15 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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I totally don't get the hard comments, even the ones where they think they are flattering you. I don't think it's hard at all. But I agree with PP for us it's a lifestyle, not an educational or learning style.
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#16 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was trying to explain why I find this a difficult question to answer.
Oh, okay. When you said "you" I took that as a general "you."



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For me, unschooling is a set of beliefs and a philosophy of life, not an educational method.
Yes, I agree! I think we're saying the same thing--even though one of your kids goes to school, that doesn't change who YOU are, right? Wouldn't you be the same person if she chose to stay at home? Your beliefs about human beings wouldn't change, would they?

Long before we ever heard the term "unschooling" I had ideas and beliefs about kids and how they learn. One of the reasons school didn't work for us was that the way we were living clashed so horribly with the school's beliefs about kids and learning. (THAT was hard!)

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ETA: I wonder if the number of kids you have has a connection to the difficulty level...
I think it takes more work, just to coordinate everyone's needs. The logistics of it makes it more complicated, maybe not harder, but there are just more people to consider.

And I realize too that one person's "hard" is another's "easy."

I was just wondering if, in general, unschoolers here think what they do is hard or easy, because I'm always a little shocked when someone says it's really hard.

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#17 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 05:13 PM
 
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I think it takes more work, just to coordinate everyone's needs. The logistics of it makes it more complicated, maybe not harder, but there are just more people to consider.
And it's hard just having one who has nobody but you to interact with all day.

(though I agree some aspects are easier)

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#18 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 05:25 PM
 
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ETA: I wonder if the number of kids you have has a connection to the difficulty level...
My eldest is away for a couple of months. I'm effectively down to 3 kids and it's made a world of difference. Logistics of juggling disparate ages, interests and needs -- much less!

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#19 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 05:52 PM
 
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Well, I am one of the people who thinks that there is an aspect of unschooling that makes it difficult, so I hope it is ok to respond even though I am more a relaxed eclectic than an unschooler.

If you have a child or a relationship where your child is open to exploring/learning what you/the teacher/parent puts forth, it is easier to put together a loose curriculum of books or topics and find/ use that as a leaping point. It is often hard for me to drop my own ideas and find resources as topics/interests rise in the child, also it is impossible for me to budget if I don't know what we are going to be interested in doing from one week to another. I do try to find resources when dd finds a topic she is interested in, but if a topic proves difficult or expensive I can just let it pass, because she always has more to do than there is time for. IF we removed all the things that I plan for her I would feel it was much more important that help her explore every question that comes up for her and that is a daunting task to me. If my dd resisted the things I find for her it probably would be easier to unschool.

Other than that I do feel it is easy, but we are very relaxed as it is and most of our day is following the girls.
ETA: I think it all homeschooling including unschooling to be much easier than juggling a school schedule.
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#20 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 05:57 PM
 
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I can compare unschooling with dd being in school, and I can definitely say unschooling is FAR easier for us. We hardly ever disagree any more. There's no hassles about homework, getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, getting her out the door when she doesn't want to go, her saying she's sick, her having to take classes she hates, etc etc etc. Now that we've been free of those worries for 9 months, our relationship is SO much better, she is SO much happier, and our lives flow much more naturally.

And the fact that she's almost 15 means that I have very little to do other than providing her with the things she wants to accomplish what she wants to. Guiding her and providing her with resources is a simple matter - I email her sites I find on line, I ask to see her artwork if I know she's finished something, I buy stuff she needs, etc. but I find it's very hands off for me.
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#21 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 06:33 PM
 
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Interesting thread. I am finding myself at the point where I need to officially decide whether or not we home/unschool next fall. DD1 would otherwise be starting kindergarten. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to unschool at this point is because I can't imagine having to get her up, fed, dressed, lunch made and walked to school EVERY day by 8am and then picked up again EVERY DAY (with a 3 yo and infant in tow). When I share this feeling with more mainstream people I think they feel I am lazy/crazy etc. Like...that's just what I'm supposed to do.

I just wonder why people just accept this kind of lifestyle.

So I think unschooling in that sense would be so much easier. But trying to justify why you want to remove such obstacles from your life can be harder.

Even as babies I think people think AP/natural living etc. is "harder." When people would find out (because I loudly proclaimed it..ha ha) that my toddler still nursed and spent most nights with me in my bed they would imply i was some sort of martyr and it was harder than cribs and bottles. I always jokingly said...nope, it's easier...i'm just lazy.

And when I think about unschooling vs. homeschooling (with a curriculum of some kind) I again say...nope...lazy mama here. No time to research and select a curriculum. Just gonna trust the child and go with the flow.

So who knows...maybe I am just lazy and that's the appeal of unschooling for me :-)
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#22 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 07:05 PM
 
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One of my biggest reasons for wanting to unschool at this point is because I can't imagine having to get her up, fed, dressed, lunch made and walked to school EVERY day by 8am and then picked up again EVERY DAY (with a 3 yo and infant in tow).
That is enough reason to homeschool!
It was such a PIA, without the 3 yo and infant. Such a struggle trying to go to bed in time to get up in time to eat in time to get dressed in time to drive dh to work in time to get ds to school in time. Then we'd have to recover from the morning program, process all the problems, destress, unwind, get some food into ds... lather, rinse, repeat.

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#23 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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OMG I know. When I look back on the years and years of hauling three kids in and out the door every day that I did, I can't believe it. I was a single mom, though, and had no choice but to work.
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#24 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 07:35 PM
 
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I think once you get the hang of viewing life beyond the borders of school and seeing unschooling as a part of your everyday living, yes it can be "easy." That isn't to say that it is. It just CAN be. Does that make sense? LOL
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#25 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 08:43 PM
 
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I think it's easy in that we have a natural flow to our lives. I don't have to wonder about problems that crop up because they're problems that are right here in our lives where I'm witnessing them rather than with some other person in a classroom somewhere and I have work backwards to figure it out. I don't have to get up, get dressed, get out the door, etc.

On the other hand, life with kids is HARD, especially at certain times. So often I don't want to work my ass off trying to meet everyone's needs. I want to sit and do nothing (thanks to unschooling, I do have a lot of time to do just that, though). I don't get time away from my kids in my house. I don't have free time during the day to myself. Sometimes the life of a schooling SAHM sounds so simple and straight-forward. But the scheduling bit throws me off and I'm thrilled not to have that aspect plus homework and forcing kids to do things they don't want to do. That sounds terrible.

So in some ways yes, and in some ways no. Having to be fully responsible for your children sucks ass sometimes. It'd be so convenient to blame their flaws on a teacher or a classroom or a bully. Maybe not accurate, but convenient. It's a mental burden for sure. I'm totally burdened with having to explain my philosophical convictions, with being committed to ideals above and beyond what others seem chained to - and it's all on me. I've got no god, no boss, no teacher, no principal, no priest to blame anything on or to hold me accountable. I am only accountable to myself and the future happiness of my family. That is effing exhausting sometimes.

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#26 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 08:53 PM
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If you have a child or a relationship where your child is open to exploring/learning what you/the teacher/parent puts forth, it is easier to put together a loose curriculum of books or topics and find/ use that as a leaping point. It is often hard for me to drop my own ideas and find resources as topics/interests rise in the child, also it is impossible for me to budget if I don't know what we are going to be interested in doing from one week to another. I do try to find resources when dd finds a topic she is interested in, but if a topic proves difficult or expensive I can just let it pass, because she always has more to do than there is time for. IF we removed all the things that I plan for her I would feel it was much more important that help her explore every question that comes up for her and that is a daunting task to me. If my dd resisted the things I find for her it probably would be easier to unschool.
But, see, to me finding resources or putting together a loose curriculum based on an idea isn't RU at all... and that's another reason why I think it must be harder to be an eclectic homeschooler like you.

I'm not even sure I know what "becoming interested in a topic" would look like... I mean, Rain has gone through periods when she loved Salinger or pokemon or ballet, and I guess those are topics? But she's never said, like, "I want to learn all about the rainforest." Usually her questions/interests/desires sort of flow naturally into some sort of resource, like when she declared that pokemon rocked she also knew that she needed more cards and a binder... I didn't have to find anything. Ditto with Salinger - she just checked out the books from the library and put a few that she couldn't find on her Christmas list.

I'm thinking gathering resources might look like, say, getting biographical information on Salinger himself? Or finding some online study guides to the books she's reading? Or finding movies based on the books? I just don't do that... I mean, I will if it comes up... she had a Nabokov thing going a couple of years ago and when I came across an article about his last unpublished book online, I forwarded it to her... I do that sort of thing, but it's not any different than things I do for other people in my life, and it usually isn't very costly...

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#27 of 96 Old 01-16-2009, 11:10 PM
 
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I find unschooling to be fairly easy, though due to my work schedule its not so easy to meet my son's needs (as far as going out and doing stuff) right when he might want to do it (since i take care of my mom we're essentially stuck at her house for part of the week)...and the "radical" part of RU i find incredibly easy and natural...its how i was raised (as far as bedtime/food/chore/tv type issues), and its how my son has been raised from the beginning.

The one thing that might be "hard" is when my son was in school, i was basically "off the hook" as far as his education was concerned, but now that he's unschooling people look at me like "well, what is he *doing*" which wasnt an issue in school.

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#28 of 96 Old 01-17-2009, 12:01 AM
 
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And I realize too that one person's "hard" is another's "easy."

I was just wondering if, in general, unschoolers here think what they do is hard or easy, because I'm always a little shocked when someone says it's really hard.
I can't relate to the concept of it being "hard" - I think that's a misconception about how it works - I think that's related to the notion Dar was describing where a parent would feel the need to run around gathering stuff to make all her children's interests into disguised unit studies. But even then, it would be a lot "harder" to be driving them crazy with a lot of direction and fuss over what you think they should be learning or studying, and continually butting heads over it. I think it's just naturally easier to be going along with your family's flow, respecting their individuality and independence of thinking.
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#29 of 96 Old 01-17-2009, 09:39 PM
 
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okay...so I technically don't unschool YET, because our DS is only 8 months old (but we read to him all the time, and our house is labeled with flashcards for everything, and we do a lot of singing, talking, signs and play)...but I read all of your responses and I have a comment to make.

I think unschooling will be very easy and fun for us (and what's wrong with that?) and that the people who say, "oh, that must be so difficult for you" and such are the same who make those comments when you say that you give birth naturally, or that you breastfeed, or cosleep, cloth diaper, wear your babes...whatever different thing that they don't do. It's like for them, because it isn't falling into the typical pattern of "everyone else", then it must be difficult. I don't think so. All of the AP we do is very natural, very easy, and very relaxed and instinctive.

And I want to say all you unschooling mamas rock in my book!
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#30 of 96 Old 01-17-2009, 10:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by leosmommy View Post
I think unschooling will be very easy and fun for us (and what's wrong with that?) and that the people who say, "oh, that must be so difficult for you" and such are the same who make those comments when you say that you give birth naturally, or that you breastfeed, or cosleep, cloth diaper, wear your babes...whatever different thing that they don't do. It's like for them, because it isn't falling into the typical pattern of "everyone else", then it must be difficult. I don't think so. All of the AP we do is very natural, very easy, and very relaxed and instinctive.
Thats a good point! Its kind of like when people ask if your baby is "easy", and they take that to mean not wanting to be held/nursed all the time...whereas i found that stuff "easy" (i realize it doesnt work out that way for everyone, some have real struggles)...so for me he was an "easy baby"...but other people who expect babies to be more scheduled or to play alone, might think he was really hard.


Katherine

Katherine, single homeschooling mom to Boy Genius (17) geek.gif  Thing One (6) and Thing Two (6) fencing.gif and one outgoing Girl (12) bikenew.gif and hoping for more through foster care and adoption homebirth.jpgadoptionheart-1.gif 
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