Our Unschooling Week

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I’m going to be completely honest and upfront with the fact that we had a rough week. There was plenty of fun, connecting, and learning moments; There was also lots of tears and fighting. I’m not sure why, but the kids were just out of sync this week. So we had lots of breathing, conflict resolution, and sometimes just some siblings separation.

Monday, we started the day out with breakfast and books. Hailey then watched some Pokémon while Elijah watched YouTube videos with me. The kids played on their tablets a bit. The boys played dress up. 

The kids did their own separate art projects. Hailey made pokeballs and Elijah painted. 

                                      Crafts and chaos 🙂

The kids played outside for a while. Elijah found a praying mantis. The checked him out for a little while.

Tuesday started out with some porch time. Winter played with Playdoh out there. 

The day was spent mostly switching from playing Pokémon, and watching TV. Hailey and I took a wall in the evening.

Wednesday, I asked the kids I’d they wanted to check out a new park. We spent a few hours having fun on the gravity rail, and snacking too. 


Hailey had Kung fu classes that evening. There was tablet time and TV too.

Thursday, Papa caught a cicada for the kids to observe. 


Grandma came over for a visit. The kids love when she comes. They each worked on their own projects for a bit. The boys taped yarn to paper. Hailey wrote cards to each of us. We had fun writing to each other for a few hours. 

Her first notes to me


When Papa got home he had a Pokémon card battle with Hailey. We read books, and played tablets.

Friday, we watched a movie with popcorn during the afternoon. Elijah built with Lego’s for quite a while. Hailey played her DS.

Today we had a big family breakfast. Then we went to watch remote control airplanes fly and do tricks. We finished out afternoon with a quick grocery trip, and then back home to relax. 

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Not back to school 2017

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I was so happy to sleep in a bit with the kids today, instead of waking up at hours that nightowls (like myself) scowl at. We had a slow morning. I made french toast for breakfast for those who wanted it. The kids played and watched tv.

Hailey has been really into Pokémon again these past few weeks. She’s always loved Pokémon, but other interests take a back seat for a bit while other interests come to the forefront for a while. Shes been trying to unlock all the extras on Pokémon Y DS game. We chattes about that often throughout the day.

The kids all played various games together. At one point, I asked if they wanted to help me put away laundry. They ran around pretending to be wolves and putting the clothes in their rooms.

Hailey made herself a snack of peanut butter and bananas while I made lunch for everyone.

Hailey for ready to head to her martial arts class. When I picked her up we went to the store for a few things.

Back at home, we read some library books and ate ice cream.

That was our first day not back to school!

Unschooling today 8/15/2017

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Today we had a great day. It was a good mix of inside activities and out of the house activities. It ended with Elijah getting to do something that made his day. 

After breakfast, the kids wanted to practice their magic tricks. Hailey asked if I had a deck of cards she could have. 

Elijah’s magic had to do with water and cups.  

After magic was all finished, the kids wanted to build with Lego’s. They’ve been building boats to test in water again. 

I laid the toddler down, and the kids played unto and ate a snack plate. They played computer game about dinosaurs for a bit. 

When nap time was over, we headed out to meet friends at the pool. We stayed to swim, run around, and play with friends for a couple of hours. 

We left and met up with Papa to get some dinner out since it was late. We tried a locally owned Indian restaurant. The kids like the Indian food I’ve made at home, so I thought they might enjoy it. I never got to try many ethnic restaurants as kid, so I love when we get to now. 

The kids loved their food, and the people at the restaurant were so nice. Elijah kept sending his compliments to the chef, so they asked if he’d like to meet the chef and tell him. He was so excited to see an actual restaurant kitchen. He told the chef “you are a good cooker”. Elijah is like my sous chef at home, so this was a big deal to him. 

We are at home relaxing with tablets before bed. We had a fun day! Feel free to share about your day in the comments. 

Unschooling today and yummy snacks

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Some public schools near me started back today. That is almost hard to believe. It is so early! It is summer! I continue to be glad for the choices we’ve made to keep the kids home. 

This morning started out with an oatmeal bar. I got the idea from Our Muddy Boots Facebook page. If you don’t follow her already, head straight over and check her out! The kids made their bowls of oats with their add-ins of choice. 

After breakfast, Hailey picked up a workbook we have laying around. She found these at the store a couple of years ago, and works in them when she wants. I call them activity books. She’s really enjoying practicing her spelling lately, so that’s mostly what pages she chose to do. 

The majority of the rest of day, the kids spent in the computers together. They u watched some shows, played starfall, then some PBS kids games. I’d bring snacks and check in. They’d show me their computer creations, and songs they made. The toddler was running around doing toddler things like building blocks and making messes. 

On the way to taking Hailey to her martial arts class, I mentioned I was stopping at the store while she was gone. She asked me to pick her up a couple of things because she had an idea of a treat to make. 

I grabbed the groceries, and then picked her back up. I made dinner, while the kids played and chatted about their plans. Immediately after dinner, Hailey set to work on her recipe idea. She wanted to create a bar with marshmallows, peanut butter, pretzels, and chocolate chips. 

She had me help her with the peanut butter and breaking the pretzels, but she did everything else herself. The recipe was completely made up by her. 

We baked it. It was hard to wait for it to cool. 

Hailey was disappointed that they weren’t as sweet like a dessert, more like a granola bar. She decided on less peanut butter and more marshmallows next time. 

Elijah had fun making some creations with the extra supplies. 

That was our day. Please feel free to share about your day in the comments. 

Unschooling Today 7/14/2017

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It’s Friday! Looking forward to a fun weekend as a family. Fridays often seem to pass slowly due to the anticipation of the weekend, so I usually plan something for us to do. However, this week we’ve stayed at the house. We rarely stay at the house for a whole week, but everyone needed some rest and recoupuration. 

After everyone was up today, I turned on one of my favorite childhood movies. The kids all enjoyed Dunston Checks in.

At the credits of all movies around here, when the music starts playing, we start dancing. 

After that was finished, Winter asked to go outside. It felt HOT. So we filled up the kiddie pool and the squirt guns. Everyone chased each other. I think I got hit the most. They each slid down the slide into the baby pool. Winter did it over and over. 

Hailey went inside for a few minutes and came back out with some of our homemade popsicles. Her and Elijah had the pina coloda and strawberry popsicles, winter had a chocolate banana one, and I opted for a cold brew coffee popsicle.

After coming inside and changing into dry clothes, Winter went down for a nap. When I got up, Elijah asked for help building his new Lego car. I’m not particularly good at following the directions on the kits, but we figured it out.

Then I read a chapter in a Magic Treehouse book aloud. The kids sat at the table together, playing with Lego people. Winter and I played on the porch.

Grandma stopped by for a visit. She brought the kids each a special toy. Elijah got a whoopie cushion and he is thrilled. 

Papa just left to take the two oldest to the movie theater, which is a special treat around here. The kids are excited to see Despicable Me 3.

Feel free to share about what you did in the comments!

Our Unschooling Day 7/11/2017

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Our Unschooling Day 7/11/2017

Unschooling happens year around. It is not defined by semesters, or days of the week, so figured I would continue the series regardless of month. I also thought it would be great to document a stay around the house day.

The joys woke up with me. They wanted to get dressed right away. Elijah (4.5), picked out his new Superman shirt and dressed himself. As I went to dress Winter (21 months), he was quite insistent that Elijah be the one to dress him. Elijah found this hilarious, and gladly helped.

We headed to the kitchen to get breakfast ready. Elijah played with Lego’s while I’m prepared food. I have been listening to Unschooling podcasts in the morning while I go about the morning. I’d stop occasionally to help Elijah find a certain Lego.

Winter got a few of the big Lego’s and tried to figure out how they go together, asking me to snap them together every 15 seconds or so haha.

Hailey (7) has been having a tough time falling asleep lately, so she’s been up later and later. It has been tough on her and the rest of us in some ways. She asked for help shifting her sleep routine. So I headed up with Winter to wake up Hailey while Elijah watched paw patrol. Hailey wanted to wake up in her room for a bit so I turned on a show for her.

I headed outside with Winter and my beloved coffee. We sit on the porch most mornings while I drink my coffee. He loves throwing everything off the porch, spotting birds, and looking for the neighborhood cat. 

Elijah then asked for a bath with toys. So he and Winter got in and played for a bit. He stayed in for a while longer after Winter got out. I thought Hailey might be getting hungry so I made her a snack played and got her some water and brought it to her. She was very happy about it.

The kids went off upstairs to play. After a while, they appeared back downstairs. Hailey said they were playing school and she was the teacher. It’s always ammusing seeing their version of what typical school must look like. She said it was art time, and Elijah asked to paint. So we got stuff out and they had fun.

They showed me their artwork when they we’re finished.

Elijah’s

Even Winter exlprored the paint.

Of course the younger two needed another bath. While they got cleaned up, Ms. Hailey said it was snack time and she made them snack plates.

After snack, Hailey asked to okay the Wii. They both wanted to go first in picking the game, so we had to sit down and figure out a solution that worked. The settles on Hailey picked first, but Elijah’s turn was longer.

I had to leave for a La Leche League meeting and I took Winter with me. We had a good meeting. When I got home Hailey was reading a book to Elijah in his bed. Papa took Winter for his night time walk. We brushed teeth, and cuddled while Hailey told a story. 

Then Elijah told a story. As I shares in my Facebook page, it was about a cat who ate so much pizza that the doctor had to shock her heart and told her she can’t eat pizza anymore after, so she ran from the doctor 😂😂😂 .

Hailey went to her room and watched Netflix, while I laid with Elijah. He was asleep in minutes! I then went upstairs so Hailey could read me a book and I read her one. She then listened to some audio books whole I went downstairs to get ready for bed. Winter woke up to nurse, so we played a little musical beds to get everyone settled. I laid with Hailey and Winter until they were both asleep. Then I headed to my bed.

Feel free to share about your day in the comments.

If you don’t stop then you can’t….

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As a child, it was not uncommon to hear some form of “if you don’t stop that you can’t do this”.  It could be “If you don’t stop crying you can’t [insert fun activity]”, or “if you don’t stop aggravating then you will have to sit in time out”, often “If you don’t change your attitude than you can’t go to that place you want to go”. Etc., etc., you get the point.

These threats were often given in angry whispers while in pubic or on the way to our destination. Public “misbehavior” was a big trigger for my mom. There was no thought given to what need may be inspiring the undesired behavior. No connecting grumpiness to hunger or tiredness. No considering that I may be struggling with anxiety about something (I have dealt with this since I was a child), or having some over-stimulation related to sensory issues (something I now know about myself). No thought to what had happened before we left, such as a disappointment or argument with a sibling. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom very much. I know that she was doing the best she could as a young mom. She did what she knew, and I was always loved.

Kids are often held to a higher standard than adults. Not allowed to show too much emotion in public, not given the benefit of the doubt, or some extra grace for an off day. I know that is how I was raised, and sometimes that old tape start playing in my head and I don’t even realize it. Words come out of my mouth, and immediately upon hearing myself say them I know it isn’t right. Those words don’t represent who I want to be as a parent. Instead, they represent things said to me in the past, things I may have internalized.

As I progress on this journey towards gentle parenting, I am getting better at catching myself before I say the words that flash in my head. I used to always say them and then apologize and say what I wanted to say (whether that be right away or after some further reflection). But now, more times than not, I catch myself right as they start to come out and I take a moment to breathe and rethink what I want to say, who I want to be in that moment.

Sometimes, I start to say those old words and by the time my logical brain has caught up with me, I am halfway through a thought and then quickly try to turn that very sentence around into something else. This happened the other day. We were on the way to a local amusement park. The kids were excited to be going again. We purchased season passes and this was our second visit. My oldest was being grumpier than usual though. She kept snapping impatiently, and was feeling sensitive very easily. I knew she was tired, as she woke up early in anticipation, and she fell asleep for the last 20 minutes of the hour drive.

While we were organizing all our stuff, getting our water bottles in the bag, and putting the toddler shoes back on again, she was just really in a tough mood. I could feel my frustration building because I knew this was supposed to be a fun day, and I worked hard to prepare for it. Not only that, it was mine and my husband’s anniversary so in some illogical way I wanted the day to be smooth and lovely. The old tape turned on in my head and I heard myself say “If you can’t calm down and enjoy your day you can sit out while your brothers ride the rides with your Papa.” I knew instantly that this wasn’t a fix, or would it do anything for our relationship, so I got down on my knees to make eye contact and took her hand. “What I mean is, if you are having a tough time that is okay. I know you didn’t get as much sleep as you normally do. You can just take my hand and I will sit with you until you feel calmer. You can ride rides when you are ready, and I will help you until then.” I could almost feel the relieve in her body. Her breathing slowed, and she relaxed into my body for a hug and said, “Okay Mom”.

That wasn’t the end of her rough times. She had skipped most of breakfast and didn’t eat what I packed in the van, so I had to really encourage her to eat something for some energy. Everyone quickly finished their snack but her, she needed some extra time. So, they went to a nearby ride while I sat with her and waited. She nibbled slowly and then when she was ready she told me. Then we enjoyed the rest of our day.

I am not even close to where I want to be as a parent. I am trying and I tell myself that if I do better today than I did yesterday most of the time, then that is progress. Rewiring our brains to a new way of being, a whole new perspective, a new form of communication isn’t easy. But it is worth it, so so worth it. It matters.

Avoiding childism at social gatherings

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In a world that is filled with unrealistic expectation of children at its best and downright prejudice against children at its worst, sometimes it is hard to explain to my kids why adults say or do certain things in response to them. Many adults were raised in a way that expected children to be seen and not heard, to only participate in conversations they were invited too, and above all do not say or do anything that is bothersome to adults without expecting immediate discipline.

When you are a child that is raised in a way that you are treated with respect, treated in a way that values what you have to say, and seeks your contribution to the family choices, it can be quite a shock to be abruptly cut off, ignored, or talked down to. I try to only take the kids to outings that I know the adults parent similarly enough, or at least will mind their own business and not butt in with my kids. Out in the real world, sometimes it is possible to avoid, but I am very thankful to be able to have friendship groups where children are valued and respected by all.

I was reminded of all this recently. We were invited to a friends house for a graduation party she was throwing her oldest daughter. This friend is a wonderful example of someone who values individuality and cultivates respect for all types of people. She has raised her kids in that vein, and it truly shows with her teenagers. There were many people of all ages at this party. Everyone was having a good time.

 

My oldest, Hailey (7)  is my extrovert. She loves being in social settings, making new friends, and being the entertainment of the room. Many times throughout the night, I seen her sharing jokes, stories, recipes, or ideas with other people. The adults listened to her, interacted, told jokes back, and overall treated her the same as they would any other guest. It was then, a large feeling of thankfulness for these type of people in our life flooded over me. She wasn’t seen as an annoying kid who talked too much or a kid who didn’t realize social expectations (things I remember feeling as a child). Actually, the opposite was the case. My friends shared with me how they noticed her creative side, and they took joy in her. I felt very much the same way about their children. It was so special to me to share that.

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This sense of respecting and admiring all people was present in the teenagers of the house as well. I was outside and Hailey went inside. After a few minutes, I went to go check in on her. She was telling jokes to the group of older kids hanging around. They were listening and laughing. They made her feel heard.

I want my children to feel just as welcomed as I do in social gatherings. That means sometimes we leave when that isn’t happening. That means sometimes people get put into the acquaintance relationship category, instead of friend. That means sometimes, the kids and I have hard talks about why things happen and children are treated differently. I am so thankful to have found people in my life who share similar values.

Unschooling Today 6/2/2017

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We closed on our house one week ago today. We moved 6 days ago. Most things are still in boxes, or scattered around in an unorganized manner. I am doing my best to gain a resemblance of our typical routine back. Unpacking and maintaining a connection with kids is challenging. It means I have to take it slower than I’d like. I have to live amidst the chaos a little while longer, so I have more time with them.  Elijah wanted me to

We had breakfast outside today. We have been doing this most mornings. I love that the weather is finally cooperating and we now have a space for this to happen. It starts our morning off from a good place. Elijah then wanted me to help him draw hearts with chalk.  We talked about our new house number, and how all the houses have numbers and that is how the mail carriers knows which house our mail goes to.

The kids asked for ice cream and I made them some in waffle cone bowls. They ate outside, while the toddler napped. I worked a bit on unpacking and laundry. We had lunch and played Headbandz. The kids also played Guess Who. The toddler “played” with some flashcards he found in a box.

I sorted through some clothes a friend picked up for us at a local swap. I showed the kids their new things and they both immediately changed into their favorite pick. Elijah played with Lego’s for a bit and Hailey on her DS.

I remembered that Elijah had been asking to make Jell-o and I bought the stuff for it at the store a few days before. So we went into the kitchen and whipped that up. Hailey picked hers to stay in a bowl to set so she can just scoop it out. Elijah picked our heart shaped gummy holder to make his into heart shapes. They are excited for it to set up and eat it.

I laid with Elijah and played a game with him on his tablet while Papa was installing a part into our air conditioner.We are about to dinner. I am hoping for an early night since we have had so many late nights and early mornings with the move.

What did you do today?

 

 

 

 

Unschooling Today 4/24/17

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Today is my Mom’s birthday, The kids woke up excited to celebrate her. After breakfast, the kids got to work on cards for Grandma. Hailey decided to turn her card into a book. She taped paper together and got to work. She wrote the first three pages on her own, trying her best to sound out the words and spell them on her own, and drawing pictures to go with it. Her hand grew tired, so she asked if I could write the rest while she told me what to write. When it was finished, it was a great book with a thoughtful story about a bee celebrating his birthday. My favorite part is when he went to a restaurant and ate pollen pizza pockets.

 

Next it was time to bake a cake. I knew I had the ingredients to bake a chocolate cake, but I had to figure out how to make it vegan and come up with a vegan frosting. My youngest is intolerant to both, and while we hope he grows out of it, we wanted him to enjoy cake today! So we looked up some recipes and got to work. Elijah loves to help me in the kitchen and quickly took his place as sous chef. We got the cake bake, and tweaked a frosting recipe to make it more to Grandma’s liking.

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We are in the process of buying a house, so I am starting to pack little by little. While the kids played, I packed a box and went through some junk drawers.

Papa came home shortly after. While I was outside drawing with chalk with Winter, Grandma arrived. The kids ran to show her the gifts they had made. Hailey was so excited for Grandma to read her book. Elijah explained his birthday picture he drew. Then we all went inside to sing happy birthday and eat cake! The cake turned out rich and chocolaty.

After Grandma left, I got dinner in the oven. Elijah was playing on his tablet and Hailey was looking for something to do. I asked her if she would like to help me with dishes and I got a excited “sure!”. I washed, she rinsed and dried. She said she was pretending we worked in a restaurant and we were the dishwashers.  She took on a Texan accent and complained about the boss. We got all the dishes washed together.

After dinner, Papa was studying, so I took the kids into the bedroom to read some new library books. I read one, then Hailey asked to read the next, and then she read the last one, while Elijah repeated the words so he felt like he was reading too. Then teeth got brushed and the littles ready for bed.

How was your day?