Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Day in Our Lives

This was from Friday last week. I just enjoy posting a day in our lives on ocassion for others intersting in unschooling to see what an unschooling day might look like. Each day is completely different, though the rise and falls or routines are generally similiar, activities change daily. Please trust me when I say this, NOT all days(probably most) will not have this much schooly stuff in them.
  • Woke up
  • fed horses and chickens
  • Wyatt(all on his own free will) decided to scroll through his math book and find multiplication(he is "2nd grade") and he did 2 pages unassisted and has never been formally introduced to it ever.
  • Wyatt, Everett and Tanner played with our +/- flash cards, quizzing each other for 30 minutes +(I actually stopped them because we had things to do)
  • Kayla sat down and wrote a story about a beautiful picture and what she thought was going on in it(she is "4th grade) she loves reading and writing
  • We then went out and washed the horses
  • Tanner and Wyatt then made me quiz them on those same+/- flash cards(these are new from the $store so thats why all the begging for them this particular day lol....they arent nOrmally this schoolish)
  • Kayla read her story to everyone that she wrote earlier that day
  • I read Mirette on a High Wire and lightly touched on boasting, France and Hollywood(just normal book discussion)
  • Kayla made Kenna a card for her bday
  • Wyatt and Everett read a few words here and there from this book they enjoy together
  • Tanner and I made lemon brownies
  • Tanner helped me make Mac and Cheese(this 4 yr can cook haha)
  • Kayla sewed Kenna a beautiful baby doll(filled it with stuffing and everything all on her own) for Kenna's bday present
  • Kayla helped Tanner sew a pillow
  • The other boys hung out outside and played basketball during the afternoon and they periodically watched TV(we have no limits on TV or bed)
  • Everyone had dinner, prayers, showers and some tv until they passed out on the couch and the others slowly straggled off to bed.

Thats an averege day here I suppose, though no day is really average haha.Somedays, anything "schoolish" is so transparent that I have found peace of mind by keeping a daily notebook of what happens all day and I love being a good observer because I have learned so much about my kids and taking notes has helped me to help introduce them to ever more new things that might interest them because I know their individual interests better. When we did that Abeka curriculum(bought at the kids request, but pushed a few extra weeks on them because of the $ I spent), I really thought I was doing the "right" thing because they wanted it and it costed a lot and I felt I should push them to follow through, but I now know this is truly the most peaceful and wonderful way for our family to homeschool. Learning is living and living is learning. Have you read any unschooling books? I think I have close to all them ever written hehe! I am addicted to buying unschooling books because I have learned that they really inspire me everytime I get into a rut or start feeling down or worried that my kids arent doing what so and so's kids are doing. Those worries die out most of the time, but ocassionally they do come back.

AWESOME website for Christian mamas Looking for Peaceful Parenting Options There are a few things on the site that I dont fully agree with, but in general, this is an amazing intro to peaceful parenting with step by step how to instructions. I really love this site. Radical Unschooling is truly a peaceful way to live. I love peaceful parenting and yes, I am human, I DO resort to punitive parenting on occassion when I am exhausted, hungry, sick, etc. Usually it is at my weakest moments, but a wise woman(Dayna Martin) once told me, "If you are the parent you want to be 51% of the time, you are winning!" I love that and its so true and helps me to be gently on myself when I do make mistakes. I always apologize and I find these mistakes get less and less, the longer you peaceful parent. I have never been a spanker, but I did use punitive parenting the first 5 years of being a mother as I knew no other way. I am so grateful to have found a better way.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


All of us playing Scrabble
We had a blast, Kayla counted up the scores and she won!

The kids playing a game they invented on their Abacus

I gotta get in on this game because they have played it 4X in 2 days, it must be a blast

We have been on a complete game kick in our house lately. While the "schooled" part of me wants to sit and count this as reading, spelling, math, writing, geometry and problem solving, I will just say, we truly enjoy playing games and having fun and learning those things come as a side effect. I love nothing more in this world than spending my days playing with my babies. Who knew there could be a job that was so important, but so much fun. I try to find happiness in every task I do. I have been working hard each day to count my blessings and not my misfortunes and that attitude has spilled into every area of my life and its contageous to the kids and Nate, its become such a better way of being and living.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Storing the Garden for Winter

We baked 4 loaves of zucchini bread(we froze 2)
5 batches of fresh spaghetti sauce (ate one and froze 4)

We have been so blessed by the gardens of grandparents this summer. Our food bill has literally been cut by about 1/3 because we have been resourceful and used almost everything given to us fresh from the gardens. We have made everything from salsa to zucchini quiche, and fresh salads to grilled peppers with bbq sauce on them(mmmm). Its been an opportunity to stretch our imaginations and make new dishes and get even more veggies into our diets. I so enjoyed spending the entire afternoon yesterday with the kids, sorting all the veggies and creating with them in ways they could be saved. Its been such a blessed summer. I am looking forward to leaves changing and holidays, but I will look forward to summer next year when we harvest our own fruits and vegetables.

A Late Summer Fort

All the spare building materials
The stage at the entrance of their fort

They even hammered a bracket into the door frame, all this with no parental help beyond teaching them how to use a hammer(which is what they asked us for).
Isnt that an awesome fort?

I love sharing my kids' enthusiasm to build and create whatever they so desire. This new property has afforded them many more opportunities for creativity with lots of extra metal, wood and other interesting building materials. We leave a hammer and nails out there in this area for them and no one has ever been hurt. We trust them and we have shown them how hammers are to be used and they know. They have been afforded all the freedom they need to be creative. I am so amazed by this fort they made. They play in it and have plans to paint it so I plan to get some paint for them in order for them to follow through with what they desire.

Spur of the Moment Banana Bread

Part of the fun of unschooling is just jumping up spur of the moment, any time of the day and baking goodies. Kayla decided to make chocolate chip banana bread after lunch a few days ago. Everett was quickly in suit behind her. They threw on the aprons Kayla designed and made herself and off they went unassisted. They baked some truly delicious bread too. Yum!

Making Progress

a WALK in closet YAYAYAYAY!!!

On the house that is! The slide is on and the playset is finished. The bark and grass will be put in next week. Our bedroom is finally done too. You know how it goes, Mommy and Daddy are always last priority, but it all gets done in due time. I am so grateful!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Finally, the New HOUSE

Chicken coup Nate built in a day

Wyatts basketball area and facing out towards the street

The playset and yes its unfinished, gonna get to that this week

The backyard. This week we are putting in bark under the swing set and grass all around the rest of the yard. We are just gonna lay sod. Its easier.

The boy's room. I love the dark, boy colors we chose because their old white walls never used to look clean

The baby girl's side of the room(the closet still isnt in yet)

Kayla's side of the room(far left) will have a wall seperating her room from the baby girl's room. I will post those pics when its done.

My laundary room is enormous! I love love love it

My new bathroom, lovin it!

Dining room

facing back side of living and dining room

living room

The new living room and country kitchen!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Unschooling and Charlotte Mason Collide

Living an unschooling lifestyle, I went with the kid's passions for workbooks that they developed over the summer and of course after looking at all the fancy workbooks Abeka offered, they couldnt wait to get their hands on them. I asked them to promise they would give it a real try if I were to spend all that money. They did and overall we just realized on our journey that it became boring and looked very much like "school at home" very quickly. Early on, Kayla hated the history book and I told her not to read it if she hated it or skip around. She did that for a bit. She skipped all around in the science text, reading things about butterflies and crickets that interested her and that she could "hook" real life to. The boys actually loved the read alouds I made science and history and health books into. The workbooks went buh bye pretty quickly. Being an unschooler, I figured we would never use this curriculum as intended and we didnt, but the kids quickly mulled through what they enjoyed and gave up on it after 7 weeks and asked me to cuddle up with them on the couch to do some much loved five in a row books. We have been doing that along with reading the Bible everyday and its something they wait on me for each morning. They do some math pages when they are bored, and they actually have come up with this writing game they like to do everyday. They like to have me set the timer for 3 minutes and write as much as they can about anything they want in that time frame. They get so excited to do this and share what they have written about with me and each other. Its so sweet to see everyone's interest in each other's often hysterical stories they make up. This may be a phase like many unschooling phases that will just die off, but in the short term they/I love it and everyone is having a great time. I sold the Abeka and I know some would say I should have made them stick to it because we paid 640 bucks for everything the kids wanted, but you know what? They dug everything they wanted from those workbooks/textbooks and I still made a good amount back selling them and they learned what interested them in that curriculum and also learned how awful it would be to be forced to do that curriculum the way it was intended to be done. I always have to be careful not to get caught up in worrying about the $ aspect and/or the "making" them do school aspect. Its always something I have to stay aware of. My kids love to write in these beautiful writing books I bought them, their best writing. They enjoy copying sentences or even paragraphs from books. They will often pour over a favorite book, finding their favorite line in it to copy exactly as its written. We live on an acre and they have a pony they ride all the time. Kayla is a fashion designer these days along with our family baker. She even designed a gorgeous apron that she wears to bake! It is so fun to watch them enjoy living, learning and growing. I strew their paths with many educational things and they ask for different curriculum's because we enjoy browsing things that our friends from the homeschool group might be using, but in the end, they usually grow bored and I respect that and get rid of things that cause anything but fun and joy when it comes to learning. Because they enjoy nature notebooks and the outdoors along with copywork, we have been looking at Queen homeschool and there are a few things there that they wanted me to order so I did and I will bet $ they will dive right into the things that are coming because they chose them and they will use them as they want to, not as any prescribed way. That is their freedom and their right because this is their education. I am their facilitator. I introduce them to neat things that I think might interest them and purchase within reason, things they want to try. The one thing I do strongly encourage and we do each day is a 5 minute read from the Bible. I feel like in order to have strong Christian values, I must live it so they can follow my example, but I also must read to them from the Bible. Most days they enjoy this time. Its not meant to be a time to silliness though and I try to keep them quiet and reverent during this short snippet each day. Ultimately, I am concerned much more about their souls then any pre prescribed learning curve. I do try my best to make sure learning is happening each day even in the most subtle of ways because Nate would have a heart attack if I didnt and he is the head of our house, therefore, in respect and submission to him.....we honour that request. It is always in a way that the kids can be excited about though. I refuse to push anything on them. They have to want it!