If you haven’t heard of Collecting Adventures Community, you are missing out. I first discovered them on Instagram. I loved the theme of sharing adventures with others. So inspiring! When they asked if I would be willing to do a community spotlight question and answer session, I was immediately excited. Admittedly, I was also intimated because there was so amazing global adventure collecting people featured. It was a lot of fun to write up my answers. Come check my interview out!
While browsing Facebook the other day, I came across a screenshot of a conversation that so very accurately described my childhood.
I have had anxiety for, well forever I guess. As long as I can remember. At times, it was pretty bad. I was the kid afraid to make a mistake. I was the kid afraid the world was going to hurt me, or those I loved. I thought in worst case scenarios. I also was the very smart kid that got excellent grades and never caused trouble. I was the kid that almost always listened, and the idea of breaking a rule was completely foreign. I was also the kid who was terrified to try new things, for I failed at something, than maybe I wouldn’t be thought of as smart anymore, and smart was all I felt I really knew about myself. I thought failure was bad, so I took very few chances trying anything new. New became very scary to me quite honestly.
When I was dating my now husband, I never had met someone who was so very not afraid. He would try anything, and laughed at himself when he screwed up. He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones, and bother literally and figuratively, held my hand when I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. I have grown a lot since I was that scared child. I still have anxiety, but I have also developed a lot of tools to help. I still get scared, but I am slowly trying new things.
My daughter Hailey (8 years old), is much more like her father when it comes to trying new things. She has a lot of self confidence, and doesn’t stick herself in a box. She is dynamic and proud of it. Even though she has a perfectionist streak like me, she also seems to be learning to go with it when things don’t turn out. She took an advanced art workshop last month. She used a wood-burner for the first time, and grabbed the wrong spot and burned her fingers pretty badly. It was a big deal. The next day, I talked with her about it and asked her if it would stop her from trying it again. She said “Well, at least I know what not to do next time. Of course it won’t stop me from trying again. Nothing can stop my art!”. I was shocked and in awe of her courage. If that had happened to me, I probably would have been too afraid to ever try again. But she took it in stride and learned something from it.
I started thinking about all the smaller things that I had still been too afraid to try for fear of failure. I wanted some of that bravery, courage, and self confidence that she shines with. I told Hailey that she has inspired me to be brave. Cooking is one of my passions. I really enjoy being in the kitchen and trying new recipes. I love food. For years, I wouldn’t veer from a recipe until I had tried it many times. Why risk it? Because sometimes something amazing gets made. So I have been allowing myself the creative freedom to throw things together guided by my taste and instincts in the kitchen. I have been giving myself permission to make a mistake and learn from it. It may seem like taking a risk in the kitchen is insignificant, and maybe in the grand scheme of things it is, but it might as well be climbing a huge mountain. I am conquering fear and self doubt.
This weekend I made homemade sushi. I had built this up in my head as big and difficult. Past me would have put it off for years, but instead I took it in small steps. I watched some you tube videos one day. Read some recipes another day. Bought a few things at the store another day. Then I decided I was just going to try. If it didn’t turn out, I could put it all in a bowl and enjoy it. It turned out great. Not perfect, but that is okay. I learned some things for next time too. It was yummy for sure.
So yeah, it starts small. But it matters. I am thankful. Thankful that my kids don’t have to be defined by one characteristic like smart. They can be lots of things, and they can make lots of mistakes. It is okay to do things that scare you.
I co-admin a local unschooling group. There are a couple hundred members on the spectrum of unschooling, but it hasn’t been very active in the past couple of years. Parents occasionally ask questions. There has been the random meetup. I have been wanting to get the group more active, but hadn’t really figured out how to.
As the school year was approaching for all the kids around us, I had the sudden desire to get the unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers together to celebrate another year of living life together at home. So I went out of my comfort zone and created an event for a “Not back to school” park day and potluck. I shared it around our various local forums to spread the word.
As the day approached, I didn’t know how it would turn out, but the kids were excited. I figured even if only a couple of people came the kids would have a park day at least. I was so pleasntly surprised, however, at just how successful the day went. We had over 50 people come. There was lots of food.
There was hours and hours of running and playing. Imaginative games, Pokémon talk, and interesting conversations.
We had chalk, and someone brought a few toys.
Kids of varying ages came, which was awesome. I set out our Not Back to School sign for everyone to sign or draw something on for an awesome group collaboration.
We even had a brief thunderstorm. Everyone gathered under the shelter, eating and taking. Hailey pulled out her tablet and kids gathered around her to check stuff out with her. I won’t show everyone because some people may not prefer their kids pictures online, but it was a fun sight.
Winter played with his brother and friends for hours too, and enjoyed some dirt fun.
Even after more than 5 hours of play it was tough to get the kids to leave. We met so many new awesome people, and reconnected with some we hadn’t seen in a while. There were kids that had never been to school, and kids in their first year staying home. Many parents were so happy to get together and excited to get the group active with me. It was a fun day and the kids are happy to officially mark another year staying home!
I was craving some Indian food and decided to make one of my favorite recipes. It is Tikka Masala like, but not truly because it doesn’t have some of the extra steps, and doesn’t use the traditional garam masala seasoning. I found it on another blog years ago, and I liked it because I love Indian flavor, but at the time couldn’t find the specialty seasonings. Even now, when I have easy access to these ingredients, I keep going back to this one because it is now a family favorite.
This morning, when I went to open the recipe, the blog that originally shared it is now archived and most of the posts are gone. I was really sad to think that I had lost my favorite recipe. I knew some of it by memory, but it had been months (before we moved) since I had made it, and I knew I was probably off. Then I remembered I had shared it almost 5 years ago in a group a friend created to share recipes. I searched for the group, hoping it wasn’t deleted. I hit some luck and I found it. So I am sharing here so I will never lose it again.
Slightly adapted from Creative Christian Mama:
1 c plain yogurt
1 T lemon juice
2 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
1 t cayenne
1 t pepper
1 T fresh minced ginger
1 t Celtic sea salt
3 chicken breasts, cubed
Mix all above and refrigerate for at least one hour, or more for extra flavor .
1 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t cumin
1/4 t turmeric
2 t paprika
1 t Celtic sea salt
1 (8 oz) jar tomato sauce
1 c cream
1. Saute garlic in butter for 1 minute, then add cumin and paprika. Heat the spices through, stirring constantly. Add salt, tomato sauce and cream.
2. Simmer on low until thickened, stirring often (about 20 min)
3. Add chicken and simmer 10 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Serve w/ cilantro, flat bread, and/or rice.
So there you go. I hope you like it as much as we do.
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.
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.
A big part of radical unschooling, for me, is finding a way to help the kids pursue their ideas. Sometimes these ideas are larger adventures, and sometimes their just small curiosities. I’m really learning lately, that even the small requests are a big deal, and I’m trying to find a way to say yes.
Sometimes saying yes is easy. Other times, the kids have ideas that seem impractical, impossible, or for some reason or another unable to be unaccomplished. Some ideas get talked about and thought out and the kids see the logical fallacy upon further reflection, some ideas get lived through only through imagination dream board style. This journey, however requires flexibility and creativity, and I’m trying to get better at that.
Hailey has been talking about having a camp out in the yard again. It has to been warm enough (or we don’t have the appropriate gear for the weather), and Papa has had some health issues that wouldn’t have made it possible this week. No Hailey, is the definition of creative, and never short of ideas. She came up with the idea of a living room camp out and was determined to make it happen tonight. However, her brother wasn’t feeling up to it, so we came up with a way to get the tent in her room and she is happy with the idea of sleeping in that as a bed alone. But they really wanted to roast marshmallows, and of course they came up with that idea at 8 pm, and we have no wood, and a wet ground and a fire just wasn’t happening. We talked about other similar treats that could meet that need. We decided on chocolate covered marshmallows instead. It was a big hit! This has led to a fun night.
I was sitting here thinking if we had just said “No we can’t camp out, it’s not possible, no we cant make a fire, sorry another time” and left it at that. The fun and yummy treats wouldn’t have happened. So be open, creative, and flexible and you can end up in some great places.
We didn’t control the amount of candy that the kids ate this year. We put it all in a big bowl and the bowl sits in our living room, on top of the TV stand (out of the baby’s reach because he would eat the paper, stick pieces down the vent, and feed chocolate to the dogs!). The only thing I asked was please only take a few pieces at a time into another room (so candy didn’t get left out for the baby to find- see above), and let’s please try to throw our wrappers away. I also put a small trash bag next to the bowl and there is one in almost every room for convenience.
The first night was the big pig out. We all ate what we wanted, but honestly looking at the trash gathered, it was not as much as I thought it would be. The next few days, the kids would eat a handful or two at a time and then none for a few hours. The parents would eat a piece or two when they wanted. It slowly decreased. There was no pressure here, no guilt thrown their way. I didn’t hope that they would stop eating it, or give any looks whenever they grabbed another piece. At one time, Hailey mentioned her tummy not feeling so hot and I suggested ‘Hmmm…. I noticed you haven’t eaten much yet today, but some candy, maybe your tummy needs something more filling”, and offered to make her a snack. No pressure or shame attached.
There was much discussion of Facebook about parentings taking a set amount of their kids candy to eat for themselves. I will be honest and say that both Papa and myself joked about it with the kids, and with friends while we were trick or treating. The kids laughed right along with us though. I never realized that there was this a prevailing attitude of control surrounding how much candy the parents got to eat. I did not have to force my kids to share with me. They were happy to share their loot with us. As a matter of fact, the day after Halloween, Hailey set up a pretend tea party and picked out a few of my favorite pieces for me as the dessert. Abundance creates generosity. At this point, after everyone has had their favorites, some candy was tried and found to not be liked, and they have offered some to anyone who has come over, there is not much left.
This is not just for Halloween though. We live like this all year. The kids are excited about candy because it tastes good, but they are not desperate for it. There is no internal struggle for them to eat as much candy as they can before I take it away, so they stuff themselves to full to eat anything else. We try to create an atmosphere where food is food, and everyone has a say in what they eat in when all the time. Food is not good or bad, and there is no set things they must eat each day. They are always allowed to ask for what they want and I try to make it happen. The kids are still snacking out their favorite foods as well. I have sliced lots of apples, and peeled plenty of oranges. I have made chicken, eggs, and oatmeal.
If you read my post months ago on food freedom, you know that I have held some very strong beliefs about food in the past. I have struggled with over controlling myself and others. I have let food induce many negative feelings in myself and let it stress me out to a unhealthy point honestly. Yet, I have felt so little stress this Halloween, and it has shown me how far I have come on my journey. It feels good to choose joy, to choose peace.