Tag Archives: learning through life

Do you want to go home?

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Imagine a scene for a minute. A few kids are playing at the park. One kid keeps having some big feelings, maybe arguing with the others, raising their voice, and overall having a tough time. Their parent is nearby says “do you want to go home?”. What do you picture? Maybe, like me, you usually imagine the parent saying it in a frustrated tone. It may have a thinly veiled tone of threat, sending the message “I will make you go home if you don’t stop”.

This is not an uncommon scene at all. In fact, something happened around here today. Being in public when your child is having some problems isn’t easy. You feel the pressure of the people around you watching. The pressure to be “a good parent”, whatever that means. Maybe even the pressure to attempt to control their behavior to make or more socially acceptable. I will admit that these thoughts still cross my mind.

However, I’m trying to reimagine those same words. “Do you want to go home?”. I see it in a different light. Not a threat. Instead, it’s an offer. An offer to help someone leave a situation that isn’t meeting their needs. A check in to see if they are hungry, thirsty, or in need of connecting. An invitation to partner with them in changing the environment to set them up for success.

“Yes, I want to leave”, my child answers. She knows she isn’t being threatened, she’s simply being asked. No undertones, no veiled threat. I put aside the internal thoughts and offered help. This time i remembered to breathe first, see behavior as communication, and remember that leaving a difficult situation shouldn’t be a punishment.

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Unschooling today 6/24/2019

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Just a quick post about our day. I’m trying to give a good balance of our at home days versus our out of the house adventures.

Today started out with making breakfast while the kids played on their tablets for a bit. Neon (In a previous post I shared that Hailey has asked to go by Neon) played Sims 4 on the computer. Elijah was having a tough morning.

After breakfast, we had a mostly relaxed morning. I laid the baby down for a nap, then the boys played for a bit together. They kept going from playing to fighting, so I had to be right with them.

Winter then wanted to watch a dinosaur video. I used this time to spend some one on one time with Elijah. I told him to pick something to do together. He asked to play roblox with me. We played superhero tycoon for about an hour. We teamed up 😎. I was able to get in some quick cleaning too.

I made lunch. I asked my 3 year old if he’d like to play with Playdoh. My 6 year old joined him and they prentended to make cookies and sell them. I bought many expensive cookies 🤣.

I asked Neon if she wanted to help me out away laundry. She said yes, but her help consisted of tossing clothes at me. I challenged her to a dance battle. She got to pick the music. I say I held my own and got a good cardio workout in 😏.

The kids found an old dart board in the basement and tried to play a game.

We all went outside for a bit and they played in the rain and drew with chalk on the porch.

Neon came up with a pranking game. The premise was simple, siblings teamed up to set up pranks. The more pranks, the more points. There was one unique rule though, you had to dress to represent your favorite country. This was an interesting discussion. She named countries for her brothers to chose from. Then we had to look up some fashion styles and select our clothes. This is an ongoing game and I’m a little afraid to discover the rest of the pranks they have waiting for me 🤪.

We are about to dinner. We will probably read some library book the kids picked too. We have a goal of helping get Neon’s costume for anime convention adjusted tonight.

Feel free to share about your day in the comments if you’d like!

Unschooling today 4/22/19

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Browsing Instagram, it can sometimes look like all people do tons of outside of the house, nature based, super cool activities. We try to do plenty of that, but we have lots of home days that flow with what everyone wants to do. Today was one of those.

Hailey and Elijah were the first ones up today. Hailey walked Elijah through creating a character for a gacha life story she is working on. I made breakfast for everyone.

Elijah spent most of his morning browsing minecraft addons, and trying a few out. Winter slowly ate and watched dinosaur videos. Hailey spent most of her time playing our newest game for the VR headset. It’s called vacation simulator and she loves it. She probably played for for 3 hours or so.

I asked if anyone wanted to do a science experiment that someone had posted about. The boys said yes, and Hailey said she’d come for the end of it.

While the water for our experiment was cooling down, we headed outside to help the time pass faster. It was a really nice day. Elijah noticed a bee buzzing around. We talked about how bees pollinate and how they do a little dance to communicate with other bees. We sat in the shade and picked dandelions and took silly pictures.

We went back inside for our expirent. It was supposed to be rainbow water in a glass but it was a flop. We tried a few different ways to make it work, all unsuccessfully. It was a little disappointing.

Elijah took a turn on vacation simulator for a bit. Hailey napped because she had only slept for a few hours the night before. Winter watched a show, while I used the baby’s nap time to clean up and prep food.

Elijah asked for ice cream comes and we took them outside so we wouldn’t wake up Hailey. They wanted to play in the water for a bit. It was play then fight, then play again type of deal.

Back in for dinner and welcoming Papa home. We then watched some americas got talent–the champions. The boys showed us their talents of headstands, picking up heavy boxes, and jumping off the couch.

Most of us are winding down now. Hailey is playing a game on the computer and having a late dinner after waking from her nap.

Working on my Triggers

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I spent some time at the nature playscape, enjoying fresh air with the kids. We were playing, climbing, and exploring.

Everyone was having a good time, until my daughter just wasn’t. She was frustrated with her brother not playing a game she set up for them in a way that she intended. She was having some big emotions. I sat down and talked it through with her.

She wasn’t exactly happy, but she went back to play. Then she scraped her finger. Hailey has always felt little hurts as big hurts. She feels deeply. The hurt added on top of her already big feelings sent her over the top. I could tell that this tipped her into a sensory meltdown.

Papa stayed with the boys, while I took her over to get some space and sit down. She was feeling her big emotions and I tried to comfort her. I know from experience, she has to fully feel her emotions, often loudly, almost inconsolably. She will not be distracted, or persuaded from them. In a way, it’s admirable, to truly honor where you are at and what you feel.

I rubbed her back, listened, validated. Her sobs were loud. We had moved away from the playscape, but the people nearby definitely heard her. This is my trigger. I feel like everyone is looking at us, thinking bad things, wishing she’d be quiet, judging my parenting. I hear society’s voices in my head. “Children should be seen not heard.” “Stop crying, it’s no big deal.” I have flashbacks to all the times my own mother struggled with us having big emotions in public. It was her trigger, and now it’s mine.

I’ve spent years working on accepting that all emotions have a place, and that none are bad. I know happiness isn’t the only emotion worth feeling. I know denying sadness and anger do not make them go away. I know what it looks like when someone buries their feelings until they can’t anymore and then explode in rage. I know the shame of being told you’re being too sensitive.

In the minutes I’m sitting with my daughter, I hold all these thoughts. I acknowledge them, and remind myself to breathe. I think to myself that these strangers opinions of me, are not more important than my child’s opinion of me. I remind myself that my daughter feels all the emotions and then is just suddenly ready to move on, and that this will be over soon.

In a few minutes, we are talking about the trees, then tossing little sticks at them to see if we can hit them left handed. A few more minutes, and some giggles later, Hailey and papa are checking for bugs under bark.

Was the rest of the the a breeze? No, it was pretty clear that Hailey was feeling a little heavy today, maybe not as rested or something is else going on. Later on, she got hurt again and we quickly headed home. I predict the rest of the day will involve cuddles, rest, and comfort food. Today was challenging, but I’m grateful to recognize and work on my triggers.

Unschooling today 2/27/2019

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We’ve been without a van for about 6 weeks now. Trying to keep our days at home interesting has been a challenge sometimes. If I stay on top of being present with the kids, and paying attention to our connection, the days have gone much more smoothly. Today was a pretty good day.

Me and the boys ate breakfast together, then played in the living room. I put the baby on my back, started waking up Hailey, did some quick chores and get her breakfast and us lunch. Throw in a little dance party.

The 3 year old played with our homemade Playdoh for quite a bit. We all sat around talking, snacking, and listening to music. I read a couple chapters of “diary of a minecraft zombie” out loud.

We had some tea in the special cups. The kids loved that.

Elijah played on minecraft for a bit, showing me what he was creating. Then the boys went outside to play for a while. Hailey spent that time drawing.

When they came in, I helped them get dry clothes. My 3 year old wanted to cuddle and watch TV, and the baby was ready for a nap. I played roblox with Hailey while I sat with them.

Dinner time, then I went to the store to buy some fruit, while the big kids played minecraft some more at home with Papa.

A simple day, but a good one!

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!

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.

Not Back to School Bash!

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Not Back to School Bash!

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!

Unschooling Day 8/8/2018

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Unschooling Day 8/8/2018

I wanted to share our day yesterday. Some schools around us are starting already. I spent a few minutes organizing a Not Back to School event for our local unschooling group. It takes place in a week and a half or so.

Our morning started out as usual. The boys started playing magnatiles together. Winter said he built a barn and Elijah made piggies for it.

Grandma came to visit for a bit. Everyone always enjoys that.

Winter played outside and made mud cake. Then Elijah helped him decorate it. Baths immediately followed.

Elijah painted for a few minutes.

Hailey played on Minecraft quite a bit yesterday. Elijah asked to play too, so she took some time to show him the controls. He got the hang of it fairly quickly.

I laid Winter down for a nap. Those are becoming fewer and farther between. When I came out the kids were looking up QR codes for Mii characters to add onto their DS.

Papa came home and cuddled with Dexter while I cooked.

Hailey and Winter played outside and in while I cooked. After dinner, the kids were ready to dye their hair. They had picked out stuff a few days ago. It was their first time and they were so excited.

That was our day!

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.