Monthly Archives: April 2016

A simple unschooling day

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Today was a pretty laid back day. As soon as Elijah woke up, he remembered that it was his Grandma’s birthday today. He was insistent that we bake her a cake. I had not planned on it, so we had to throw some things together last minute and make up our own recipe because I did not have all the ingredients for any of my usual recipes. Then he asked for paper to make her a card. Hailey had made hers the night before.

After baking the cake, we headed to church. We were late, but the kids made it to class. They really love their class, so they were both happy.

When church was finished, we headed home. We had to frost the cake, and both kids wanted to help. We watched a few minutes of TV and waited for Grandma. Grandma got to our house. The kids excitedly gave her their cards, and showed her the cake. We sang happy birthday and played with Grandma.

I guess I got a little distracted talking to my Mom, because Winter crawled over to the art supply bucket and had a good taste of marker. 😛

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After Grandma left, the kids and I took a walk to a nearby field. They ran, rolled down the hills, and gathered dandelions.

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Simple things really can make kids very happy.

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A day in the life!

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Today started with an earlier than usual wake up. Well it was supposed to be at least, but Mama and Papa overslept! So it actually started wit rushing around trying to get ready for a program we had registered for.

The program was an active story time program at a local gardens style metropark. It was a lot of fun. The gardens are so beautiful as well.

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After the program we hung around to play for a bit. I had never visited this park in the spring, and the plant and animal life was in full display. We saw quite a few cool birds, and watched them fly around, listened to them chirp.

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This is a cardinal. Our state bird!

We even found a nest. Hailey was quite interested in the newly hatched robin’s egg.

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They played in the sand pit for a bit before we headed home for lunch.

After lunch, a bit of rest, and some cleaning up on my part, we left again to meet up with some friends at the big nature park near us. I didn’t get pictures here because I hardly saw the kids. They were running around, deep in play, and doing their own thing. But Winter played with his baby friend!

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Back at home, we cooked out on the grill. It was a good dinner! We then read a bunch of new books I had grabbed from the library. Please feel free to share your unschooling day in the comments!

Our unschooling day 4/18/16

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Based on the account of many of our other unschooling days, it may seem that we are always on the go. That is not the case of course. I don’t want it to seem that unschooling can only be successful if you leave the house. Plenty of learning can happen just relaxing at home. We’ve stayed home the past two days because the kids had runny noses and I thought they might be fighting a mild cold that I didn’t want to pass on. They have kept busy here at home though!

I did some accidental strewing. I was looking for something in a drawer and unintentionally put the tubes of glitter glue in the kids crayon bucket. The kids discovered it and has some art time creating colorful pictures with the glitter glue.

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Elijah had been asking to make honey cake for a while now. He has seen something about honey cake on a tv show, and I had forgotten about it, but the episode came on today and he asked again. I said yes of course! So we headed into the kitchen and whipped up the new to us recipe. It was so yummy!

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Elijah needed a bath from playing outside yesterday. He asked to make it a colored bath, so I let him pick his colors and he threw them in. He splashed and played with the toys.

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The baby took a nap on my back, while I got some cleaning done. There was some downtime with tv shows thrown in there.

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It was a beautiful day so we headed out front. The kids wanted to play with the water table, but we couldn’t find the plug to stop the water from leaking out. Hailey tested out many different ideas on objects that could plug the whole successfully. She finally found a solution that worked. I filled it up and they all played.

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Winter really loved splashing in there. He loves the water!

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The baby took another small nap while Hailey and Elijah played with toy food and then some imaginary game where she pretended to be a cat and he took care of her. Elijah also tried on our new Captain America costume.

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After dinner, the kids played outside again with the kids from next door. After they were done, the kids wanted to ride their bikes for the first time this spring. Hailey was a bit rusty, but she was back in the swing of things with some practice.

We came I read another chapter in Charlotte’s web to Hailey. Then I read some books to both of them, Elijah is asleep now, and Hailey is creating things with tape and string.

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Feel free to share about your day in the comments!

Adventure!

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Kids love adventure. They often don’t care about getting dirty or wet while in the middle of exploring something new and exciting. My kids tend to get along, play cooperatively, and find new ways to relate to each other when we are on the go and exploring. We leave the house nearly every day because when we stay home, often they argue more. Something about a change of scenery really seems to help both of them.

When Papa is working, I usually keep our adventures small and at familiar places, or at least places that I don’t feel like I am going to loose a kid 😉 . Papa is truly the adventurous, risk taking, thrill seeker in our marriage. I am the watch from the side lines and take pleasure in watching everyone else take risks. I love the learning, watching the discoveries, and the connections unfolding right before my eyes, but I am more the facilitator. Okay, maybe I am a bit boring. That is okay, I fake it as best as I can.

Today, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone. I don’t do that often, at least not with hubby strongly encouraging me. I met up with a big group of local parents who were hiking a beautiful nature reserve that I had never been to. I was so nervous about possibly having to tandem carry the 3 year old and the baby, carrying the basic supplies, a kid running ahead and getting lost or hurt. But, I knew the kids would have a good time , and I  really had been looking forward to this event before Papa’s schedule had changed at work. So we went.

It was a fun adventure! We walked about 3.5 miles total. The trails were so beautiful.

Everything did not go perfect. I forgot the big water bottle and only had a small pouch of water. It turned out alright, we filled up at the beautiful spring with fresh water.

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I also forgot baby wipes for Winter, so we roughed it with napkins and water. 😀

The kids got to know some other hiking friends a bit better. The got dirty, they got wet.

Hailey kept exclaiming “look at this beautiful nature area! Everything is so pretty!”

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My favorite part of the hike was when 3 deer sprinted across a path right in front of us. So amazing!

The hike ended the the reserve’s nature center where the kids took a rest, played with wooden blocks, and checked out the fossils. Hailey was fascinated with a giant shell and the employee in the center explained what the sound actually was. She happily told everyone else who entered the center before we left.

After the hike we headed to get some ice cream at a local dairy farm. Yum!

So it was an adventurous day, and not just for the kids!

Unschooling Today 4/15

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Today was a pretty fun day for the whole family. We wanted to get some last minute family time in before Papa had to go back to work tomorrow. The original plan was hiking, but both kids were kind of tired from a busy week. Instead we took a short walk to see if a nearby nature center was open. It wasn’t unfortunately, but we did get to see a few animals they had outside while they were healing from injuries. We checked out a turkey vulture, a red tail hawk, and a screech owl, read about their characteristics, their diet, and their injuries. Then we looked at the collection of honey bees the center is keeping. I am not sure why we didn’t get any pictures here. I guess I was distracted for some reason!

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We stopped at the store on the way back, and Elijah and I ran inside to get a few things I had forgotten. He asked if we could buy some popsicles, and I say yes of course! I enjoyed the few minutes of time with just him.

We headed home where I made an early dinner. Hailey had been asking for me to make meatloaf for some time, swearing up and down she loved it and would eat it. So we made it together. Hailey, not surprisingly, didn’t eat it. I had a feeling that once it was baked she might feel like it was out of her comfort zone, especially on a day that she was feeling kind of off anyway. But Papa and I enjoyed it and she had peanut butter toast.

We headed out for a program through our local metroparks. It was a nocturnal frog search. We did this last year and it was a lot of fun, so we were all excited to do it again. The guide talked about frogs, and shared some cool facts. The kids were armed with flashlights and headed out. It didn’t take long before Papa spotted a frog and helped the kids catch and take a look.

After a bit of studying, we released them back. Someone else found a sack of salamander eggs. I didn’t get a picture, but it looked like a giant slimy booger. Yuck! Another person found a crawdad, and the kids took a look. Hailey gladly gave it a pet, but Elijah was hesitant. Then there was a small box turtle that was hiding in his shell. That was pretty cool to see in his natural environment.

It was getting pretty dark, so more creatures were coming out. A friend spotted a water snake. Hailey was dying to take a look, so Papa grabbed it up and put it in a container to examine. We showed it around to whoever was left and let it go.

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My friend identified this as a juvenile northern water snake.

 

Thanks to our friend, I have learned round pupils vs slit is the telltale difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake.

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On our way out we found a couple big toads that the kids held. Hailey was really fearless with all the creatures.

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We stopped at the swing and the kids swung a bit with a friend while talking about the stars and planets.

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Everyone is asleep now, and I am just winding down. Please feel free to share about your unschooling day in the comments!

Our unschooling these past few days

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Sometimes I am too busy to stop and write a post about one unschool day, so I write a post about a few days or so. We have been busy having fun around here. Saturday most of my extended family went to my grandma’s house for lunch. My cousin was in town. I had not seen him in 12 years since his mom passed away and he had to move in with other relatives. My other cousin who live in Texas was also in town. So the family gathered to eat and catch up. My kids played with their cousins and made memories in the same house I made many memories in. Lots of laughs were had.

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Winter got to meet his Great Grandpa too.

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Sunday was church, which the kids absolutely love. Hailey and I also continued reading Charlotte’s Web.

Monday, we met up with a local homeschool preschool group at the children’s museum. We looked at the animals in the zoo area, and then all worked on pages for a book we are making.

We then played in the other areas of the museum and watched a planetarium show about the stars and planets. We finished our museum play in the play kitchen and pizza making area. Hailey decided it would be a great time to have a fake Italian accent. Apparently, nearby kids agreed because by the time we left, all the kids in the area had adopted the same accent.

Hailey and I chatted a bit about what the word coincidence means, and she laughed at funny examples she could think of.

Today, we headed to our favorite farm. The kids loved on some lambs that were just born a few days ago. They were adorable.

 

They also had fun digging in the dirt, because why not?

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We headed to Ben& Jerry’s for free ice cream cone day, then to the grocery store, and out to lunch. Tonight Hailey will probably tag along with me to La Leche Legaue, while Papa and Elijah spend some special boys time.

Learning from tangents

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My husband has the tendency to get distracted when he is doing something, and end up doing a completely different task. I have been known to get a tad frustrated with his distractible mind, but other times I have stepped back and realized that the tangents he goes off on have value. I have noticed that kids often naturally learn in much the same way. They start with one thing which reminds them of another thing, and then another. So much can be learned, practiced, or accomplished in a short period of time because of this pattern.12983194_10209553434532398_5556097279143211291_o

Tonight I witnessed learning that stemed from a random conversation. Papa and Hailey started out talking about how their bodies bend differently, which led to a discussion on angles, degrees, and compasses, then Papa showed Hailey what that looks like on a paper plate by making a compass. Next they used their homemade compass to make different types of triangles and talking about their corresponding degrees. It ended with them finding out how many degrees their hands were. Hailey’s can stretch 135 degree. Elijah took this time to practice writing his “numbers”.

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I am happy to have a partner that is on board with unschooling. I was happy tonight that he took the time to go off on a tangent of learning with them. It all happened during the time we would usually start winding down with our nighttime routine, but learning shouldn’t be stopped because of the clock, so that got pushed back a bit to go with the flow of learning.

Food Freedom, Part 2

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Last post, I gave some background into my personal history with food and health. I started reading about radical unschooling when my daughter was 2.5. I read a bunch for months, and started applying some of the concepts in other areas first. I knew food was going to be a difficult one for me, and I wanted to be confident in my choice to try first. Slowly, over time, I tried to just say yes more. I stopped trying to scare my oldest into avoiding certain foods, and I tried to stop using such extreme black and white language about food (poison for example).

So what does removing arbitrary limits surrounding food look like? Does it look like a kid stuffing their face with candy, cake, ice cream, chips, etc., all day long? Not usually. Although, my oldest has a sweet tooth, and if she has candy she will often eat it all at once, not without offering to share with everyone though. My 3-year-old doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth at all, so he will often only take a bite or two of most sweets.

Many times it looks like begging me to make broccoli because that is a favorite vegetable around here. Sliced apples are also often requested.

It always looks like asking what everyone in my house would like on the grocery list. That question gets different answers ranging from orange juice, to start fruit, to cheese puffs from Trader Joes. I try to always say yes to their requests the same way I try to get my husband’s requests.

Occasionally it looks like having ice cream before breakfast, because what is the difference between having a bit before breakfast or later in the day? It’s nutritional profile certainly doesn’t change if you have it after dinner. Occasionally it also looks like turning down desserts because they just don’t feel like it, or they it is not a favorite and they feel no need to eat it for fear of getting nothing else for a while.

Sometimes it looks like a kid not enjoying what I made for dinner and asking for something else. My daughter has a lot of texture issues surrounding food, and my son is a meat and potatoes kind of kid. So easy, no-hassle foods get offered instead. Sometimes that is peanut butter and jelly, buttered noodles, or a smoothie. Sometimes that is yogurt and fruit.

It looks like accepting that it is okay that the kids like cereal. I am not a failure for not having a fresh made breakfast every single day. I try to buy the “healthier” versions of their favorites, but I say yes to this now.

This means not taking every single morsel so seriously. Yes, they can have birthday cake at the party, sure they can have the sucker their friend offered, and yes they can have snack at church, even if it is not something I would usually pick for snack.

Yes, I can add frozen broccoli to the list, yes you can eat frozen blueberries for a snack, yes we can make popsicles out of smoothies. Yes you can eat your Easter candy at whatever pace you choose.

This means we talk about which food gives us a little energy very quickly. And which foods will sustain us for longer. Sometimes this looks like me saying “You haven’t had much protein today, would you like xyz?”

I want my kids to have a much healthier relationship with food than I ever have. I want them to learn what makes their body feel good, and what makes it feel not so good; not what I tell them should make their body feel good.

I want them to choose to try new foods when they are ready. You may think they never will, but the more I have let go of trying to force them to try new things, the more they have willingly chosen to take a taste. Not at first, but with time, healing, and the realization that they have control of what goes into their body.

I want to bake with them, let them add things to the list, and figure out what their favorite things are. I want food to be nourishing to the body and the soul.

Let me put the disclaimer here that I am not all the way there, I may never be. I still catch myself feeling fear around food, and sometimes I put down limits that upon further reflection, were arbitrary. This is a journey. My kids also have no allergies that threaten their life, and if they did I would try my best to find acceptable alternatives.