Tag Archives: family

Getting creative.

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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.

Honesty and forgiveness and childism

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Today we took the kids to a local nature play area and hiking trail. They played in the play area for about an hour, building their house of sticks, and enjoying some fresh air. After we were all played out, we headed to the trail for an easy, kid friendly hike.

Hiking with kids is always an interesting adventure. Sometimes they are really into it. They immediately start noticing their surroundings, pointing out animals or unique plants, asking questions, or running ahead to play. Other times, they start complaining about the walk only a short while into it. Today, it was a mix of both. Elijah (4 years old) got his feelings hurt pretty early on, and he wasn’t easily cheering up. He asked me to hold him. Winter (17 months) was happily toddling along, so it was easy for me to pick up Elijah. When it was clear he needed some extra cuddles after a few minutes, I told him I needed to put him in the carrier on my back. He liked that and all was good.

We stopped for a short rest break. Elijah was still on my back while I sat down. Hailey (6.5) was sitting close to me, Winter was playing behind in the dirt, and my husband was checking something on my new boots. All of a sudden Hailey was screaming crying. It all happened very fast, but I heard a rock swish by and quickly realized that someone had thrown a rock and it had hit Hailey in the eye. She was almost inconsolably (understandably). All of attention was focused on her until she was calmer. Then I asked what happened. She didn’t know. I asked if Elijah threw the rock and he said no. I felt bad that the baby had grabbed the rock and tossed it without me noticing. He can be pretty rough in his curious toddler way. He is definitely in a throwing phase. I had been watching him, but my attention had turned to my then bare feet as hubby looked at my boot.

Winter was completely oblivious to all of it, as he sat digging up dirt. There was not much to do at that point. Prevention is really the key with that age, and the time for that had passed so I sat and comforted Hailey. All this happened in about 5 minutes. All of a sudden Elijah tapped me on the shoulder. He said “Mommy, actually I threw the rock.” I was surprised at his confession, seemingly out of nowhere. I asked him why he threw the rock. He tried to explain where he meant to throw it, and he didn’t mean to hit his sister. I don’t know if he really meant to throw it somewhere else, or if he didn’t think through how it would feel to be hit with a rock, or maybe he thought he couldn’t reach her and he wanted her attention. His face was full of worry for his sister. I pointed out her bruise beneath her eye, and explained that this is what happens when rocks hit people It is very dangerous and not a game. I said if he wanted to throw rocks, I could help him find a place to throw them away from people. He told Hailey how sorry he was (not coerced from me).

Hailey seemed to calm down more, knowing what had happened. We decided it would be best to head back. After a few thoughtful moments, Hailey stopped and said “Elijah, I am really proud of you for telling the truth about throwing the rock.” I was proud of that too, because admitting mistakes is not easy, even for adults.

On the way out of the trail, a woman passing by asked Hailey why she wasn’t walking and having me carry her (why is this her business?). Hailey said “My brother accidentally hit me with a rock so I was sad and Mommy is holding me.” The woman rolled her eyes and said “Oh yeah an accident, I’m sure”. That really rubbed me the wrong way. Here was this interaction that she had no idea about, but yet she was assuming such negative intent, even given the information that it was not intentional. I can’t imagine a stranger having the same reaction if I was limping and she had asked what happened and I said “My husband accidentally bumped into me on the trail and I fell”. I really do not understand why someones mind goes to the worst possible scenario with these little people. And really, even if it had been on purpose, she had no insight to what occurred. This was probably a situation that was best for others to stay out of.

Overall, I think some important things came out of a hurtful accident. I am really proud of how both my kids handled themselves. I am most proud of the empathy they are both learning.

 

Play can turn it around

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Often, it is very difficult to get the kids ready and out the door. Even when they want to go somewhere, they lose focus while getting ready, wiggle while we try to help them put clothes on, etc. Sometimes, this causes frustration for Papa and I, and that can lead to a not so great start to our outing.
 
Once I start down the cycle of feeling like I am in a battle with the kids, it is hard to pull out of that and before I know it we are locked in a pattern of me demanding something while they resist it (Like get in your car seat and buckle right now etc.). No one likes being bossed around and really, it is not how we want to parent. I believe we operate best, and feel the best, when we come from a place of partnership.
 
So today, I was in the kitchen cleaning up while Papa was trying to get Elijah (4) dressed and he was distracted and wiggling around. I sensed the all familiar pattern, but today, two words popped into my brain. Playful parenting. I read a book about that years back, and still try to incorporate many of the techniques from it. Whenever I turn a situation into an opportunity of play, it almost always makes the day better. The kids have fun, we connect, and they usually are more cooperative afterwards.
 
I ran into the living room and said “who wants to play Simon says?” The kids immediately got excited. So I started giving Simon’s orders. There were lots of silly animal noises, and body movements, but there were also “Simon says lift you foot into your pants leg”, or “put your socks on.” They were laughing and were suddenly happy to get ready in the game. Then they each took turns being Simon.
 
Everyone had fun. I spent some special play time with the kids. As a bonus, they got ready in record time and were happy to do it. There is no negative demanding cycle to break out of as we start our day either; in fact, it is quite the opposite. We are feeling connected and like a team.
 
So next time, before you engage in a power struggle, try to think of a way to play that everyone will enjoy.

The Day After Election Day

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I will be honest and admit this day started off a bit rough for me, at least internally. It was the morning after a rough election night. I am a very sensitive person, I easily feel anxious or worry, and I react strongly to hate. I am not trying to get political, but I will say that I felt quite a shock that it seemed so many in our country are still choosing hate in their attitudes. I truly felt like I was grieving for my idea of what I want our world to be. I knew there were some people who had bigoted views, but I supposed I overestimated the progress that has been made.

Anyway, I was feeling emotional and posting on social media about it. Soaking up my like-minded friend’s feelings added to mine was too much. I felt overwhelmed and recognized that it was not a healthy though path for myself. I knew at that point, I could easily fall into a hole of complaining all day and commiserating with peers. Luckily, a few very loving posts helped me decided to put a stop to it right then. I wrote up a quick thought on my Facebook page and personal wall.

“I’m not going to allow the realization that our country is more racist and bigoted than I thought, to stop me from focusing on my children. I can’t let it distract me from showing them love, because that is how best to shape the next generation. I choose love.

And as my friend said, if you build a wall, I will teach my children how to tear it down.”

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I want to focus on these people

Then I shut it off. I stayed off social media for the rest of my day. I decided that today would be a good day and I would show my babies some extra love and attention. I told my husband my feelings and what I wanted to do and he agreed that would be good for me. I immediately started engaging the kids in a conversation and we laughed and chatted about one silly thing or another from there.

I cleaned up while the kids ate food in the kitchen, us chatting the whole time. Then I asked Hailey if she wanted us to show her how to play some card games. She was super excited to learn. First we showed the kids slapjack. Papa had to help Elijah play, because he couldn’t quite get flipping the cards down, so they became a team. After playing that we played war for a bit. Hailey won that.

I made some popcorn and the kids debated on which movie they should watch. I let them work it out, not by themselves, but I was more a facilitator and a guide. While they watched, I challenged Papa to a card game. We had no played cards just the two of us in a long while. We played a few games of Rummy and it was a lot of fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed playing cards with him.

The kids came in after the movie and asked to play some more. I needed to lay the baby down for a nap, so Papa took over playing Uno with them while I laid him down. I came out while he slept and started dinner. The kids were laughing and super into the game. Papa looked like he was having fun too.

We ate dinner together as a family at the table. We talked about our day, about a game Hailey and Elijah had made up, and about whatever else came up. I cleaned up a bit and the kids asked for ice cream. They are eating that now, loudly talking about something in their game. Soon we will cuddle and read books.

I think I needed this day. I needed to see that I can still chose to love and focus on my children despite my uncertainty of the future. I needed take back my control over my emotions. I know what I stand for and what I want to pass down to my children and I know that I must model it. I can’t promise that each day I will be as successful at pulling myself away from the worry, but I have to try. I must try to not let myself get sucked into the worry, the hateful posts, the arguing. Even when it is hard, I chose love.

 

Unschooling today 10/22/16

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Today we got out the door a bit smoother than usual. I think that was because Hailey woke up much earlier than usual. She said her dream woke her up. I had made a pot of oatmeal at Elijah’s request, so we all ate and headed out the door.

We went to a super neat event. It was called Human2fest. It focused on meditation, mindfulness, yoga, art, wellness, and holistic care in general. This is right up my alley! We mostly hung out in the kid’s area. The kids made some art pieces. Elijah worked on painting the outline of his hand, for a project the art coordinator is going to make. It will be a collaboration of all the kids hands who made one.

They had a kid’s yoga class. This was so much fun. Hailey loves yoga and often watches yoga YouTube videos. The teacher of the class was laid back, gentle, silly, and patient. Some parts I even did right with them. They did yoga, a yoga story, all crawled through a downward dog tunnel, and said positive affirmations about themselves.

 

We walked around and checked out the booths. Hailey asked to have a sample at the Indian Food truck. This is a big girl for my girl. She has always had trouble trying new things, and has been intimidated by foods that do not look just right. But she really enjoyed her sample so we bought a plate for her and Elijah to share. They played at the playground area for a few and then we headed out.

We let the baby nap in the car on the way to meet up with a group to do a pumpkin themed activity. We read a pumpkin story, had a snack, and then took a short walk to find little pumpkins hid throughout the trail.

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On the way out of the trail, Papa and Elijah threw some leaves off the bridge into the river and watched them float down the stream.

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We then headed home. The kids took a bath. We might do a movie night before bed.

 

What did you do today?

Our Unschooling day 10/11/16

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This morning we woke up and decided we wanted to make pumpkin waffles. I love that our relaxed schedule means that we can have a more elaborate breakfast when we feel like it. After breakfast, we all got dressed and ready and headed out to enjoy the beautiful day. We decided to head somewhere we could go hiking and the kids could play at the nature play area they love.

The kids set right to work finishing a house made of sticks and getting involved in an imaginary game they created. They played for about 40 minutes. Elijah built a large “stove” out of logs.

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Papa was busy playing too. He used a big stick as a lever to raise a log back onto two other logs that used to hold it. Then he built a little obstacle course.

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The last leg of the course was a bit shaky. Hailey took it upon herself to see if she could figure out a way to make it more stable.

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After some trial and error, her and Papa figured out a way together to get it the way they wanted and we took turns trying it out. Winter was having fun too. He noticed a tree had a large hole and was sticking things into it to see what would happen.

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After the play we went for our hike. The kids ran ahead and played as Pokemon characters for most of the hike.

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We stopped to take a snack break at our favorite area of the hike. This area is known as the Osage Orange tunnel and it is so neat looking.

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The hike was finished soon after and we headed home to finish the dinner that I had started earlier before we left. Hailey tagged along with me to our local Le Leche League meeting.

We came home and Elijah and I played superheroes for a few minutes. Of course he was the superhero and I was the bad guy who he had to “defeat up” (that is what he says instead of beat up). He picked out the book “Green Eggs and Ham” for me to read before going to sleep. Hailey is relaxing with a show in her room before the rest of us will head to bed.

How was your day? Feel free to share in the comments.

Our Unschooling day 8/19/2016

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Today I had to get the kids up a bit earlier than usual because we had a chiropractic appointment. It was a bit of a rush to get out the door, and we were still 15 minutes late. We walked in, the kids didn’t have shoes on (they were with us but I couldn’t get them to put them on quickly and we were already so late), the baby has a crooked onsie snapped on by one button, and I was clutching the now lukewarm coffee I had not finished. At least we made it! You have to laugh at yourself to get through this life. Appointment went well as usual.

It was a really nice day out, and we had not been hiking much this past month due to the heat. We decided to head to a nearby metropark to play and hike. The kids played for a few minutes with the logs. Winter thought this was super cool.

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Elijah and Hailey pretended they had an office, with a kitchen I believe is what I was told.

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Hailey found a slug. We looked at it but didn’t touch it. She remembered how difficult getting slug slime off was from the last time she found a slug.

 

Elijah found a walnut in the shell and noticed that the smell was quite interesting. He asked me to smell too. Before today, I do not think I have ever smelled one. Smelled kind of pine like.

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We headed off to hike. The sun came out and we were not under shade for a few minutes, so it started to feel like a mistake, and the kids were not happy. We persevered though, made it to the shade and everyone was better. We came upon a creek. The kids played in the water a bit, pretending rocks were fish. When they were finished playing we had a snack. Hailey asked Papa questions about rocks, and Papa was more than happy to talk about rocks, the earths makeup, the age of rocks, etc. We kept on hiking. The kids pretended to be Pokemon while we finished hiking. We stopped for drinks of water, and the kids played in the water a bit. Winter loves the water so much. He laughed at the sight of the water fountain.

After we were loaded up in the car we headed to a store to get a few things I noticed were on sale. We drove home, making sure to hit some Pokestops. At home, Elijah helped me make dinner and asked if we could make banana bread with the super ripe bananas on our shelf. So after dinner, he helped me bake that.

Papa downloaded a flight simulator and played with the kids for a few minutes. We read our new library books and got in Pj’s.

That was on unschooling day! Feel free to share about yours in the comments.

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Our Unschooling day 8/6/2016

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Today started with breakfast, and coffee for the adults of course. Hailey had an appointment so I took her to that. Meanwhile, Papa stayed home with Elijah and they got the grass mowed.

After cleaning up the house some, I asked Elijah if he wanted to help me make the peanut butter pie for our family reunion tomorrow. Of course he said yes to that. He used his strong muscles to help me crush the graham crackers for the crust, measure out the ingredients, and mix it all up. There was some taste testing in there too.

While we were busy making that, Hailey was drawing pictures and having us guess what they were. She asked me to get her some colored pencils the other day, so she could practice her drawings. I don’t have a picture of today’s but this was the other day before colored pencils.

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The kids had picked me a flower they found in the backyard.

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Papa helped them put it in some water. After a few hours we noticed an interesting phenomena occurring. The stem was splitting in many different directions. We all examined that for a bit.

Hailey and Elijah played for a bit. She helped make him a name tag by doing her best to spell out the names he had picked, and asking for help with the words she couldn’t get all the way.

We headed over to my Dads house for a few minutes. We had picked him up a little treat to help him celebrate his birthday. Hailey showed him her tablet and her games. He showed us in broken leg and talked about his recovery.

We then headed downtown because our city was holding an adventure night that we wanted to check out. We got to see people repel off of a 30 story building, which is an interesting sight.

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We checked out some booths, had some samples, watched people paddle boarding, listened to the band, and watched some martial arts demonstrations. We then walked around the city catching Pokemon. We stopped for a break by the fountains. Elijah loves watching the water and Winter enjoyed it too. Elijah noticed there was money in the fountain so we told him about making a wish, and gave him some pennies. He made some wishes and tossed in some pennies.

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We came home for dinner, books, and bed. It was a good, fun day around here.

 

Unschooling Today 7/2/16

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Today has been a pretty relaxed pace kind of day. After a week of being out hiking, geocaching, appointments, library programs, festival, fireworks, and playing with friends, we really needed a down day.

We were outside enjoying the very nice weather and we noticed something interesting on our van.

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We were trying to figure out what this little thing was and just watching it wiggle and move across the van. The kids were fascinated.

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We moved it over to our bush, figuring the wind blew it there and it would much rather not be on the van. Elijah completed the rescue mission. This brought on an interesting conversation and what a chrysalis is and the differences from a cocoon. Some googling and discussion later we were all satisfied.

We are helping take care of my Mom’s dogs for a few days, so we walked the few blocks down to her house to play with them and let them run around outside. All the kids took turns on their favorite activity at her house.

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Even the baby loves to hold on to the rope while I let him think he is swinging on it. The dogs enjoyed the company too.

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After a while, we walked back home. The kids watched some Garfield for a bit. The baby napped on me while I picked up the house. Elijah played outside and pretended to cook with leaves and sticks. Then we all made some strawberry lemonade.

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Elijah helped me with the dishes and I made dinner. We are going to walk back down to my mom’s in a bit. I am guessing we will read a bunch of books before bed too.

 

What did your day look like?

Learning to embrace our nontraditional lives

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We have always been kind of nontraditional. My husband has worked many different shifts during our marriage and because we unschool, we have more freedom to arrange our routine around, so that the kids still get time with their Papa no matter how strange his current shift is. I seem to go through periods of time in which I embrace this, and then other times it is like I almost forget that we have always lived our lives a bit differently. I don’t know how that happens, how something I have lived for years just slips from my mind.

This year, my hubby has taken a new job and he works Saturday, Sunday, and Monday really long hours, but the rest of the week he is home. When most people ask what his schedule is like and they hear that, they seem to recoil in disgust. Ha. And I get that, for the average family that kids go to school (or even summer camp this time of year), that would mean they get to spend very little time with their kids. For us though, it works. We not only have more time with Papa around, but we have the weekdays during the school year when most places are close to empty, and more days to do family stuff. It has been working well for us.

We are night owls around here too. Going to bed is not always an easy thing to make myself do, even though I love sleep. Hubby is the same way. So we stay up late, and get up when either the baby or 3-year-old wakes up, which isn’t as much sleep as I might want, but it is just how my brain works right now.

Recently I have suffered from that whole things slipping from my mind syndrome. I don’t know what I make myself learn the same lessons over and over again. Some kind of self-torture is what that is. But it was as if I forgot that we live on our own schedule. We do not have to have dinner at 6, and kids asleep by 9. All of a sudden, I was stressed that things were not going by this typical societal schedule. That schedule just doesn’t fit us. We are a busy family, often out having fun and exploring new places, hiking, playing with friends, and any other adventures we can come up with. Because of our sleep schedules, and the fact that it is not fun to be stressed in the morning trying to get out the door in a hurry, we often don’t start our adventure until 1 or 2. Most of the time, the kids are not done after an hour or two. My kids tend to really dive into something and be super invested for a long time.

So when we walk in the door at 6 or 7 (or later even), then I was suddenly feeling stressed that dinner was not done yet and it is late, and we have to hurry hurry hurry. Hurry is just not a good word. It creates bad feelings. It tempts mom to yell, and kids to cry. I don’t like it, and I am purposely setting up our lives so we have to be in less of a hurry most of the time.  Then I just give up on making food and get the kids a quick snack, and I just stuff my face full of potato chips. That is fun the first few times but then it gets old quick.

Then, suddenly the other day, the lightbulb went off (again!). We do not have to eat dinner at 6 o’clock. Heck, I don’t have to cook dinner at all as long as everyone has food to eat, even if everyone grabs something a different. My kids are not in bed by 9. That is not our life and it really never has been. I am putting pressure on myself for not living up to an idea that does not fit our family and never has. I gave myself permission to cook dinner at 8:30 at night. My husband walked in the door at 9:15 and I was just finishing up. We all sat down at the table (we don’t always do that) and enjoyed our family meal, and then I did the dishes. It was so relaxing, so freeing.

I can’t have my foot in two separate lives at one time; not happily at least. I can’t have one foot planted in the traditional 9-5 American family on a school schedule side, and the other on the radical unschooling, untraditional schedule that honors our individual personalities side and feel peaceful at the same time. I don’t have to conform. It feels good to embrace that. Now next time, I have to learn this lesson I can go back and read this and hopefully remember it a little faster.