Monthly Archives: March 2016

Unschooling today 3/30/16

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Today Hailey had an appointment to get her hair cut. This is only the second time ever and she decided to go short for spring. I took her to a friend’s salon and she really enjoyed it. She loves her new hairstyle!

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After that we headed to our weekly homeschool friend’s play-date. The kids played on the swing set, tire swing, trampoline, and came up with games to play with each other.

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After a while, our friend decided to let her chickens out to roam a bit. Hailey had fun trying to help them find worms to eat.

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Winter got down in the grass and socialized too. He picked the grass and squished the dirt. This is the first time he ever got dirty feet from playing outside; the first of many I’m sure.

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Please feel free to share about your day in the comments!

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Unschooling Today 3/29/16

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We had a slow morning with breakfast, coffee, and chatter about random stuff. We all got ready and went out to lunch. The restaurant had colorful decorations of animals all throughout. The kids named the ones they knew and asked about the others. We talked a bit about different types of cuisine and which foods were different among them. Hailey sadly learned that breadsticks were not a part of Mexican cuisine.

We went to a park to go hiking and explore. This has been a favorite activity lately, so we have been going at least once a week. We discovered they had a special kids trail with signs throughout. Each sign had a piece of the story and an animal fact. Hailey really enjoyed discovering each one.

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We then headed to the regular trail. At some point, the kids became interested in looking for bugs under logs. With some help from Papa, they found some centipedes.

Hailey ran a bit ahead and when we caught up to her we discovered she had found a thick stick that she was using as a lever to help he lift the large logs.

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The kids found some worms. In the past, Elijah has been a bit hesitant about all things creepy crawly, but he found some courage and picked up the worms. He named one wormy and carried it with him until it pooped on his hand. Then he said it was time to put wormy back into his home.

On the way back Papa noticed some tracks in the dirt and Elijah compared his feet to the animal track. We talked about which animal it likely was and we landed on deer.

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At this point, Winter woke up from his nap in the carrier and I decided to let him down to play a bit and stretch out before headed home. He enjoyed feeling the grass and attempting to crawl forward.

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Feel free to tell me what your day looked like in the comments. 🙂

Food Freedom, Part 1

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If you are at all familiar with the ideas behind radical unschooling , you probably know that removing arbitrary limits is a priority. This is going to be a two-part post. For this post, I am going to give some background into my food history and how that has shaped our journey, and in the next part I will be talking about what removing arbitrary limits around food looks like in our home.

I will be transparent and tell you that this has been the area that I have struggled with the most, yet has yielded not only benefits for my children, but for me as well. I was raised in a home in which there was not much offering of fresh, whole foods; lots of very processed foods, and boxed and canned foods were a staple. However, that was never my taste. I always have loved fresh fruits and veggies. As a kid, if we went to a buffet, I loaded up on salad. My parents just did not eat that way often though.

As a young adult who was cooking for myself and my husband, I tried to cook very healthy. The ideas of what healthy was morphed over time, but I ended up being very extreme with food. I was very strict on myself, was very harsh on myself if I ate something I did not consider healthy, and tried to control what my husband ate as well. I put immense pressure on both of us to the point of being very unhealthy. I also hate to admit it, but I have judged others for their food choices many times. There are personal reasons from my past that I believe this extreme control around food emerged from, but I won’t get into that. Let’s just sum it up by saying, I thought I knew what was healthy, and I was determined to make sure my family ate mostly only that.

After I had my daughter, I was super strict with her and what she ate when she began eating solid foods. That was pretty easy, because she was in my control and under my watch. Over the first few years, I tried many different styles of eating, including, paleo, gluten free, Weston A price, etc. I thought I was giving her a gift, not allowing her to have foods that I deemed poisons. I have a sad memory of turning around to see my toddler eating a sucker offered by a restaurant host (my Mom had been holding her and allowed her to have it), and yanking the sucker out of her mouth telling her how bad it was.

I did not realize at the time, that I was on a mentally unhealthy path. I did not yet completely understand how the stress, guilt, and pressure surrounding food can create physical health issues as well. It was not until I found radical unschooling and chose to attempt to apply some of the concepts in our lives, did I realize how much food baggage I had of my own. I have healed so many personal wounds while trying to help prevent my children from having to deal with so many food issues of their own. The next post will talk about real life examples of food freedom from our lives.

Coffee me!

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If you spend anytime around me or my husband you will quickly realize that we love coffee. It is so much more than a drink that we consume to give an extra energy boost. It is that of course, but we just love the whole coffee experience. We love how it smells, how it tastes. We love trying new kinds of beans, different roasts, different brew methods. We usually brew at home, but we also have a favorite local coffee shop that makes excellent coffee. You will not come to our house and find cheap coffee in a big red can, you won’t find a cheap drip machine. We take coffee seriously. It is a shared hobby, and those are always nice to have in a marriage.

I was really happy to get to try some coffee from the company Koffee Kult. We got these beans to try for a discounted price in exchange for an honest review for the company. I am not going to pass up that opportunity. They came in on a day hubby was at work, so it was really hard to wait and try them, but I held out. 🙂

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We were very happy with these beans. I love a good french roast. We brew our coffee on the stronger side and these beans held up. Smooth, bold, low acidity, yummy. The beans themselves were super dark and oily. The grinder still ground them perfect for our french press.

The baby is teething hardcore. he was tossing and turning most of last night. Hubby just asked me to stay up late with him tonight and watch a movie. So, I think that means it is time for another cup of this delicious coffee!

What can you learn from one hike?

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Many people wonder how unschooling really works in real life. I know I used to scour the internet for stories about what an unschoolers day looked like. Now that we are unschoolers ourselves, I truly understand what others meant when they said everyday was different, but overall kids learned what they needed.

Today we took a hike as a family and I decided to try to identify learning through the lenses of “school” subjects. A hike is just a hike right? How much can you learn from one hike? Well, if you open your eyes it is so easy to see that the learning is everywhere.

Obviously a hike is exercise, so that is physical education, aka gym, covered. Elijah was picking some different kinds of plant leaves and asking what they were: biology obviously. Like the last time we went hiking, Hailey decided to practice her writing skills in the dirt, and then read us what she wrote. Reading and writing covered. She drew some pictures as well, at least a half dozen of them, so let’s mark art off the list.

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We hiked by the Great Miami River and talked about how big this river was; how it went from one part of Ohio to another. We talked about how the other hiking trail we went to last week was next to the same river, even though it was in a different city and explained how that worked. There is some geography for you.

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There were some very large, very old trees to be seen. We chatted about their age and how long they had been growing. Some basic history checked off this imaginary list. Hailey decided to pick flowers for each of us while hiking. She counted each one as she picked it, then decided to keep track of how many she had given each of us and the difference between us, as well as how many more she would need to get to a certain number. Real world math-check.

We found a spot close by the river and went down to explore. The kids were tossing in pebbles and sticks; what floats, what sinks? Papa showed them his skipping rock skills: physics and basic scientific method being touched on here.

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A bit further down we spotted some geese and a few deer. We observed them for a few minutes. They were pretty. Animal biology is always a winner for the kids.

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So there you go. In a matter of a couple of hours of a kid paced hike we managed to naturally touch on many different schoolish subjects. Questions were asked, critical thinking ensued, curiosity peaked. Learning through living, no force, no trying to hide learning. Unschooling is amazing.

Our Unschooling Day 3/18/16

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This is actually our unschooling account for yesterday. It was an awesome day. We had Papa home for the last day before he went back to work for a few days and we won’t see him much, so we wanted to make good use of it. After breakfast and a relaxing morning we got ready and headed out. We stopped for lunch at a local place and ate while Hailey and Papa played tic-tac-toe and connect the dots.

After finishing there, we headed out to hike. We tried a new trail today, and it was beautiful. Hiking is fun by itself, but Elijah found a way to spice it up by challenging Papa to a stick light saber fight. I am so glad that Papa was around for that one, because that is not my thing. They had a ton of fun off and on battling through much of the trail. Even Hailey joined in a bit.

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Battle!

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Sister joining in.

Hailey also decided the trail was the perfect place to practice her spelling. She grabbed a stick and stopped all along the way back to write words in the dirt. She started with all the ones she knew, then asked me to name other words that I thought she would be able sound out, and finished with words that only required her to change out one vowel to make a new word (Pat, pet, pit, pot, put!). I love that all types of learning has no walls around here.

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Back at home after dinner, Papa started a fire. Elijah had been asking to roast marshmallows for a few days, so we were finally able to do that. We made s’mores, which funnily enough, the kids chose not to eat. Elijah actually doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth; it was more about the process for him. Hailey chose to just eat the chocolate, and said that was enough sweet stuff for her at one time. But me and Papa had our fill. Winter hung around on my back in my woven and enjoyed watching the fire. It was a great day!

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Allowing big feelings

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We had a fun day planned. Everyone was looking forward to getting out of the house as a family and enjoying our day. The plan was to head to our favorite farm in the morning for a kids program, then home for lunch, and round out the day at the park with our friends.

The night before had not gone as planned. Hailey had woken up an hour after falling asleep earlier than usual. She didn’t go back to sleep for a few hours, so I knew when I woke her up for the farm this morning, that she would be going on less sleep than she needed. Nonetheless, she woke up super happy and ready for our fun day. We ate homemade muffins, got ready and headed out the door. The kids had fun, Papa was happy to be able to watch them play, and I appreciated the sun.

Back at home, I warmed up some lunch. After about a two-hour respite, I told the kids it was about time to go. I noticed Hailey had not eaten her lunch. I encouraged her to eat something to give her energy to play at the park. She does not deal well when she is feeling hungry. She refused her lunch, so I suggested she grab something that was quick with protein. Papa offered his help in helping her to find something. She strongly resisted the idea of eating anything. I knew that she would be playing on less sleep, and not enough food. I knew it was the beginning of the recipe for a hard time. I shared my concerns. She told me she felt like she would be happily distracted with her friends, and I agreed we would try.

I pulled my husband, who would be staying home to catch up on some projects, aside and explained that she was very likely to have a meltdown, either at the park or when we got back. Just a heads up to be prepared for it and to love her through it. At this point, I thought we were going to make it to the park. I buckled the toddler up and Hailey was coming out right behind me when she shut the screen door on her finger. Now that would hurt anybody, and I would probably cry too. But that was the final straw. The tipping point for her to go over the edge. She screamed, she cried and cried. I knew when her tears had moved past the point of “ouch this hurts” into “I just can’t do this anymore”. I held her. I put some homeopathic cream on her thumb. Her Papa was trying to help her take some calm breaths, thinking if he could get her calm then maybe she could still go. She just couldn’t calm herself. I have seen her like this enough times to know, that if I tried to take her to the park, not only would she be miserable, but I would be stuck trying to help her through it, keep an eye on the toddler, and nurse the baby. It would be hard on everybody, and unfair to expect more of her than she could give and then set myself up for frustration with her when it went that way.

I kindly explained to my toddler that I had to unbuckle him because we weren’t going to make it to the park today. He was sad, but recovered quickly and played on the porch while I explained to Hailey. She cried harder, she yelled how sad she was, she promised that she would do better. I told her that I loved her, that she had done nothing wrong, and that it was okay for her to feel sad. I had to reassure her of these things multiple times. I did not want her to feel like she was in trouble for feeling sad or having a hard time. It took about 10 minutes before she agreed to come out of the van. She asked me to carry her in.

She has mostly played games on her computer since then. She came out to ask for a snack, and she was much more calm and relaxed. I know I made the right call for our day. I hate to see them sad and having a hard day, but I know that it is normal and okay. I know that it is so important to love them through those big feelings. To show them that you can stay calm in the midst of the storm. To be their anchor.

A child’s heart

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One of my favorite things to witness as a parent is the natural generosity of my children’s hearts. So often, I see them being giving, kind, and loving on people. In these moments, I feel so happy about the way we have chosen to parent these little ones, because I certainly believe it matters. In those moments, I see it. I see that raising my children in a way in which I try to be generous with them results in children who feel happy to be generous with others.

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What do I mean by generous with my children? This can look like a lot of things. It looks like sometimes letting them pick out toys when we go out. If we have the money to spend, then we try to say yes to that. It means when my hubby and I treat ourselves to the occasional coffee shop coffee, we try to get the kids a drink too. It could mean saying yes to an activity that the kids want to do. It could mean being generous with my time and spending some much needed special time.

Sometimes, it means happily sharing some of our things with our children. Last night, I had a few pieces of candy that were given to me. I could have eaten them all to myself (and I have been known to hide a little treat just for myself here and there-nothing wrong with that), but instead I was openly happy to offer my daughter some. I think food is this this girls love language (like Mother like daughter 😉 ).

This weekend we attended an Easter egg hunt. There were a bunch of kids, and after it was all said and done, I noticed that a few kids got much less eggs than others. Hailey did not hesitate to start handing out some of her eggs to others. She went around actively looking for those who might have had less. She spent some of the time we had set aside to play to pass out candy to those who had little. She happily exclaimed “it feels really great to share with others!” I was proud of her giving heart. She gives with everything she has. She is generous with her things, her time, her love.

Some days this parenting thing is kinda tough. Then other days I get to see some of the reward of all this hard work and I remember how very worth it is. I am raising some pretty amazing human beings.

Our Unschool Day 3/12/16

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Yes, it is Saturday and we are still learning. That is the beauty of unschooling; the realization that learning does not stop. Our day started off a bit earlier than usual because our local learning farm was having a program and an Easter egg hunt. We checked out the animals on the farm,

hunted for eggs, and played on the equipment.

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Hailey made a new friend, and we talked about what the phrase “things in common” means. Elijah played restaurant with rocks and leaves as his pretend food. A good time.

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Back at home for lunch, snacking on the candy from the eggs, the babies nap, and some relaxation time. Cloudy with a chance of meatballs came on TV so we watched that. Elijah preferred to build with blocks.

My 3 year-old was getting a little ornery. I figured some outside play might be good for him. We head out and my 5 year-old decides she would rather play than finish the movie. They slide and draw with chalk while the baby checks out the grass for the first time. Elijah decides he wants to ride his trike so I wrap the baby and walk behind him.

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This stuff feels pretty neat…

We will probably wind down soon since we got up earlier. Also, before bed I know Hailey will ask me to read her a a chapter or two in the book we are reading together.

Our Unschooling Today 3/9/16

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Today started off with some TV while my husband and I watched our church service online that we had missed this past week. My oldest got a little bored watching shows she got down the new marble game we bought and started playing with that. Somehow, Papa and her started talking about obstacles courses and they found a video of one to watch. Then Hailey wanted to build one herself to test out. She completed it after a few tries and then Elijah took his shot at the course. He completed, albeit in a more unconventional way.

While everyone was getting ready we put on some funny music and danced. Hailey said this was to celebrate the completion of the obstacle course. We packed some lunches to go and headed out the door to a local metropark. We took a small hike with a group of other local parents with babies and small kids. After the hike the kids played at the little nature play area. We also hung up our new hammock and played in that.

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Now we are back at home for homemade pizza night. If the kids are up to a movie we might try that too.