Tag Archives: family

Unschooling today 2/7/2019

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Today was a relaxing, sweet day. We’ve had some tough days this week. Our van is out of commission for a long while, so we’ve had more home days than usual. I’m trying my best to help the days flow, but some built up frustration has definitely reared its head this week. That made today feel extra nice.

After breakfast, the kids and I all watched some monster mob school on YouTube. These are hilarious videos with the minecraft mob monsters. Lots of laughing by all.

I made some snack plates, while we all hung around chatting and listening to music. My 8 month old loves to dance, and it’s adorable. We all love it.

The boys helped me make a batch of baking soda clay. It was our first time, and they were super excited to try it. While it was cooling down I made us all some tea.

I invite the kids to come on the porch with me and watch the rain. Elijah decided to stay inside playing minecraft but everyone else came out. It was a perfect time to make potions with the rainwater.

When we got chilly, we all headed in. The clay was ready, and each kid set to work.

They can’t wait until they dry so they can be painted. It’s going to be a few days, so lots of patience needed.

My 3 year old moved onto Playdoh next. I cleaned up a little, while the kids played. I played a little roblox with Elijah. Then they hung out together, while Winter pretended to be a superhero.

Dinner was made, more music, more minecraft, and probably some books here soon.

Just a simple, fun, down day!

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My kids are braver than me

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While browsing Facebook the other day, I came across a screenshot of a conversation that so very accurately described my childhood.  49938988_1965298690184873_3182184653071056896_o

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.

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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.

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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.

New Year, New Words

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The first day of the year always seems to feel particular sentimental. I am not really one for new years resolutions, as I strive to always be growing and committed to healthy change. However, the idea of picking some words to focus and guide my growth does appeal to me. I had not had the energy to put much thought into it, and decided that it would come to me naturally. The universe delivers, and the past 3 days have shown me what I think I want to meditate on this year.

                                                   Play

                                                             Adventure

                                                                               Flow

It really started the day before New Years Eve. My husband and I had some big, much needed, deep cleaning goals. Things that get put off after you have a baby and are in survival mode, but eventually you have to face the music and just tackle. We got the cleaning done, and more than I expected. The whole day was different than my typical deep cleaning day though. This time, we remained playful all day. Clutter often stresses out my anxiety (another issue I am working on), and cleaning but not being able to get it all done (because kids and life) is sometimes frustrating. But on this day we had dance parties, sing offs, told jokes, and just laughed. We communicated well, and just enjoyed one another company while working. Staying connected, playful, and going with the flow just made the whole day so much sweeter. I want more of that. More playful days, even through our regular everyday tasks and responsibilities. Play doesn’t have to be reserved for the cool outings we go on. Playfulness is a state of mind.

I like to listen to Pam Laricchia’s exploring unschooling podcast in the mornings while I make breakfast. Sometimes they talk about having an adventure mindset. It is kind of like the old saying “it is about the journey, not the destination”. Not being set on a fixed outcome, and looking at the whole thing as an opportunity for adventure. We do not always know how it is going to turn out, plans do change unexpectedly, and things are not how we picture every time. That doesn’t mean the time is wasted or we have to be upset, but instead, we can try to enjoy the adventure. We can find good, fun, play, love, growth, and learning in all things if we don’t assume we know the ending and keep our minds open.

Flow is another thing they talk about on the podcast. We all know the people in out lives who are the go with the flow type. My husband is. I am most certainly not. I don’t strive to be someone completely different than I am. I am a planner, organizer, and this is very helpful to accomplishing the goals of our lives. But as I said above, sometimes plans need to change or just unexpectedly change, and being willing to accept that is apart of life and not let it put me in a funk, is always something I need to work on. Every day is a flow. Sometimes we get really into a project or a game and we just flow with it. Sometimes we are in a season of lots of outings, and we flow with it. Sometimes we need to be home more and we flow with that. More flow, more flexibility, more acceptance of what is.

So those are my words that I want more of in my life this year. I have had a good start today. We spent our New Years day playing roblox together, chatting, watching Doctor Who, playing Kirby, hanging out, making art, and eating yummy snacks. Here is to a great 2019!

 

The day after Christmas

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Christmas is officially over. We enjoyed our Christmas season quite a bit, but I’m still feeling relived it’s over now. I’m ready to move on and feel excited for the new year.

The kids have been playing with our new things all day today. We really tried to focus on useful gifts, experiences, family gifts, and creative things. We got a Nintendo switch and that was a hit. Last night we all played a game of Mario party together. They wanted to play Kirby Allies as soon as they woke up.

There has also been a mix of Pokémon play, pretend play with their new plush toys, and scratch art. I’ve brought snack plates to them since no one wanted to stop playing to eat.

The kids were gifted these excavating kits. Some have dinosaur bones, others have gems and other little things inside.

Elijah had an idea to try to put some of the “dirt” in hot water to see if that will help the process move along easier.

Winter was gifted a book that was a favorite in a library haul a whole back. It’s called “The book with no pictures”. He had me read it over and over, with silly exaggerated voices of course. Then Hailey wanted to read it to him.

Lots of Christmas candy has been consumed today too. I found these cute little chocolate sleigh and reindeer kits. Yum!

Grandma came by for a visit too. The kids played on the sit and spin for a bit, and Dexter took a turn.

A little bit of minecraft time happened as well. Right now, Elijah is watching a shark documentary, and Hailey is playing a Pokémon battle game on the switch.

I hope your holidays were wonderful!

Those days you wake up in a bad mood.

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Those days you wake up in a bad mood.

Yeah today was one of those days. The classic “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” type of days. It seemed the kids were upset before we ever left the bed, the baby needed a diaper change, the dog refused to go out, and I just wanted to make breakfast. I felt myself withdrawing and just wanted to start the day over.

It’s like the universe just knows you are already struggling. It’s the type of day where you just feel kinda sad. Then every little things seems to go wrong. You drop everything, coffee spills, kids keep getting hurt, trash tips over. And on and on. Maybe on a good day these normal things are mild frustrations that you just breeze through, but on this type of day each thing just piles up.

These are the days it’s easier to slip up and yell at the kids. It is much more difficult to stay mindful and present for me, and when my mind wanders my gentle parenting tools seem farther from reach. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but this is an honest picture of where I was at today. I don’t always have sunshine and rainbows type of days even though we unschool and believe in gentle parenting.

I have come far in how I handle these days. Years ago I would just try to get through it telling myself it was okay if I snapped at the kids a bit because everyone has bad days. They’ll be alright. Truly if it happens, and sometimes it does, they will be alright. That does not mean it’s okay if I give myself permission to take out my mood on them though. They are not responsible for my feelings, my hard day.

So about halfway through our day, I laid down the two youngest for a nap. I had managed to stay fairly calm despite my mood. I had set us up a relaxed, slow paced day and expectations were realistic. Then, just as my toddler just falls asleep I hear it. I hear my older two in a very loud argument. I wasn’t surprised. Kids have an amazing ability to pick up on our vibes. Often, my bad mood translates into a similar mood for them. My 5 year old seems particularly sensitive to this.

I jumped out of bed hoping to quiet the fight before it ended the much needed nap of my toddler. I was frustrated and wanted to yell. I wanted to threaten something mean in that moment. I even started to. The words began to come out of my mouth. But I stopped them. That is one thing I’ve gotten better at through my years of practice. I do not have to continue my tantrum. I don’t have to finish what I started if it isn’t going to help our connection.

So I stopped. I stopped my thought and set up the kids in the way we do so that I could help facilitate problem solving and good communication. I heard each child out, validating and paraphrasing. I reframed it back to the other child. We figured out what each kid was feeling and how it led to the behavior. We talked about how we might handle things differently next time. I really didn’t feel like handling it that way at that moment, but again, the kids are not responsible for my feelings.

Then I invited them to play a game with me. I had imagined spending the toddler nap time watching a TV show and hoping the others would play together while it happened. It was clear that wasn’t in their capability at the time. Their behavior was telling me they needed connection with me. So I invited them to play. Elijah set up legos on the table, while Hailey set up a board game. So I played Legos in between my turns. Hailey destroyed me in Sorry. Elijah liked his Lego man beating up mine.

Now they are playing together and getting along I’m sitting on the couch, window open, feeling a breeze. Maybe I’ll get to watch a few minutes of TV after all.

Our day has many hours left in it, and I don’t know if it’s going to not be one of those days anymore. I still feel kinda blah, but I certainly feel much better than earlier. Play is good for me too apparently.

Volcano!

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My husband loves just about every subject matter that could be labeled as science. Luckily, the kids seem to really enjoy experimenting and watching various videos with him. Elijah in particular would experiment daily if he could. He loves to make his own experiments, follow our science kit, and do experiments as a family.

Papa wanted to show them the classic volcano science project. So we built volcanos out if some dough that papa mixed up.

It was so hard to wait for them to dry. Elijah wanted to check on the progress daily. We decided against painting them this time, because as soon as they were dry the kids were ready to go. So this past weekend it was time to make the volcanos erupt!

I foresee us repeating this one, maybe even with different colors.

2 year olds

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I don’t believe in “terrible twos”. I do believe the words we chose to say or think about a situation changes out perception. I know this can be a tough stage as a young one tries to figure out where they can be independent and when they still really need help, all in the middle many cognitive growth spurts in language and functioning. I have so much empathy.

I’m on my third 2 year old. My first was a higher needs kid and all her years have had some big cough spots. My second was much more easy going, although super physical in a way I had never experienced.

This little guy is much more the typical 2 year old experience that people refer too. He is so much fun, but wants to be fiercely independent without all the skills to do so which feels overwhelming and frustrating for him. He has also been on a very late sleep schedule for a long time now, so that has its own challenges. I’ll be honest and say, many days lately my empathy has been more forced, my patience thin. I’m tired, pregnant with my 4th, and sometimes wish I could just speed up this stage. I know I *really* wouldn’t want that.

All that to say, that no matter how long you’ve been on the peaceful parenting journey, sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you catch yourself thinking things that go against what you know to be your real core values. I’m searching my toolbox to find ways to feel more centered and present again. We are all learning.

Unschooling Life in the New Year So Far.

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Hi all! Yes we are still here, living our life and having fun. I wanted to update with some of what’s been going on in our lives lately.

I took a little break for the holidays, and we enjoyed those in a relaxed laid back way. We all got sick on Christmas and the week after, recovering in time for our annual New Years eve snacks and game extravaganza. We started the New Year right away with an experiment. By 12:10am Papa was throwing boiling water into our freezing weather and making instant snow.

We have had lots of inside the house, more restful days hiding from the cold. Plenty of time spent using our new Christmas arts and crafts supplies, playing with Playdoh, taking colored bubble baths, building with Magnatiles, playing Wii, and watching shows.

My mom bought us a family pass to an aquarium about an hour away. We took out first visit there. Each kid had a favorite part from petting sharks to observing the penguins. Elijah enjoyed playing photographer for much of the day capturing lots of the fish on film.

We took a field trip to a local trampoline park set up for homeschoolers. We filled the place to capacity. The kids are excited to do this again in a few weeks.

Elijah had dental surgery. Although that was nerve wracking, he did great and we loves him through it.

We have played a few Wii games as a family. Mario Party has been pretty popular. The virtual reality headset came back out for some roller coaster simulations. Papa made this a full experience with the kids sitting in a chair that he picked up and turned, as well as a fan blowing for the windy effect.

We’ve also had a few playdates with our friends. That’s always a favorite.

We’ve been doing lots of baking. Some things we’ve bakes recently have been fresh bread, muffins, and banana bread. Yum!

We had a couple big snow storms. The boys really wanted to play. Elijah threw snowballs and made snow angels. Papa pulled Winter around the yard in a sled.

It warmed up to 50°F, and we headed to the park. There was lots of melting snow and ice which captured the kids interest. They had fun walking on ice, slush, and splashing puddles. They also threw snowballs at the pond to see which areas the ice cracked.

Hailey has continued her martial arts class and belt testing is coming up soon.

That wraps up our January so far. Hope your New Year is going well.

I don’t fear daylight savings anymore. 

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Daylight savings time. I used to go with the rhetoric of how awful it had to be, because everyone else complained; and truthfully, when we pressured ourselves with early time commitments, I’m sure it did have its challenges. 

Back then, I was very much still discovering who I was and what I believed as parent. I caught myself parroting what I heard others say. That was the normal. I wanted to fit in. Not only in my words, but my actions. I did many things differently, but I also conformed in ways that were hard for me. Get up early, rush to a million activities. Go go go. 

Not now though. Now my kids can sleep and wake as they need. We adjust each day and go with the flow, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Hailey did wake up earlier than usual today, not because the clock was changed, but because of an excited little brother who made a bit too much noise. That’s okay. We can figure out what we need as the day goes on. Our morning was free to take it as slow as we needed it to be.

We ate breakfast, the kids watched a bit of a movie, checked on their birds nests they made for the back yard, and found ladybugs on the porch as I sipped my coffee. Winter demands I take pictures of anything he deems interesting. 

I am thankful that this day won’t throw us off the week and that we have no strict schedule to adhere to. I know that can’t be everyone’s reality. My husband will still have to sleep at his normal time, even if the kids are still up. I could look at that as putting more “work” on me. I don’t look at it that way anymore. I love this life.

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.