week 44

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this week. this week right here. whenever i start to doubt myself and question whether this is right for us, i will look back on this week and put myself at ease.

sometimes i feel like i’ve missed out on so much in life and then other times i feel so full and crazy grateful for how beautiful my life is. getting to raise and educate darla in this way is one of the great honors of my life. i can’t believe i get to spend my days romping around the town with her and then sometimes i get to see a human born into this world. it’s nuts.

i hope i can remember how fortunate i am the next time i start worrying about how i’m going to pay bills and afford life.

we spent as much time as possible outside this week. it was absolutely gorgeous. conversations of late are showing me just how much knowledge of science and nature are getting in to darla. it makes me hungry to show her more. how can i show her more?

for those of you just here for the pretty pictures from our week then this is a good stepping off point. please proceed to your nearest exit with caution. thanks for stopping by! come back later, i’ll have more ;-)

those of you interested in this unschooling-thing, stick around.

that spirit deer told me to get out into nature last week and i listened like it was my job because it is. i took her to the audubon center on monday. that day went like this: new obstacle course doings, playground playings, water tower towerings, pond life exploring, woolly bear snuggling and lots of running to and fro. the information we covered ranged anywhere from our feathery friends, to shelf fungus, to dragonfly life cycles, to human anatomy and lots in between.

we ventured to griggs reservoir on tuesday. we walked along the river, tracking a great blue heron and darla collected her choice items for the day. i love how i somehow become the keeper of items during our nature outings. my pockets always end up full of various things she has found along the way.

weds we went hiking in blacklick woods. darla was very fascinated with various nuts and seeds along the trails. she stuffed both her pockets and mine full and inquired about them with the ranger inside the nature center. we saw lots of wildlife on our walk, i think due to the overcast nature of the day, including several does and fawns, a huge buck, chipmunks galore, and two magical albino squirrels that we determined are king and queen of all squirreldom on earth. we rewarded ourselves at the gluten-free bakery afterwards :-)  and darla wanted to take some of the acorns home to the squirrels in our yard because they “probably don’t get too many of those type living around us.” we prepared a plate for them and offered it outside. ummmm the acorns were gone within a couple of hours. i think we have some thankful wildlife in our immediate area now.

maybe this is just the deep breath before the plunge into winter that will keep us locked up indoors but i’ll take it. i’ve determined that my niche in her education is to get her outside as much as possible. because if i can accomplish that then i can certainly do this unschooling/homeschooling thing. and she told me during our woods hike that she wants to continue to do them even during snowy weather so maybe we have some snow hikes in our future this winter.

what else do i want to tell you all about this other than COME JOIN US?  i don’t really write these posts about unschooling to push my views on anyone else, because this is just what is right for our family right now. BUT if you feel so inclined, then please, come join us.

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story bored

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and here’s a post where i write about something i’m really passionate about.

you may or may not have read my last life{dot}next retreat post. irregardless, you should know that i’ve been counting down the months until i’d be able to attend my next one. it’s set to begin 2.26.14. i am beyond stoked.

these retreats have been lifelines to me. i started attending them when i was beginning to believe that maybe following my dreams was out of my reach. i had begun to think that others got to follow their passion but not someone like me. the life(dot)next retreats helped me believe in myself and trust in my path again.

the community and conversation of the retreats help me think about the possibilities of my life. they’ve helped me to see life with more potential as i get older, not less.

and i’m going to admit to the fact that i’m still a little bit in denial that very soon the sun is going to disappear from my life for months and i will exist in a grey haze that is ohio for winter so taking off for someplace that is 80 and sunny just when i’m about to go bat shit crazy from it all sounds rather appealing, right?

the theme of this retreat is Flexing the Story. as soon as i heard that i was in. this is something i’ve been working on personally for some time. life is all about the stories we tell to ourselves and other people. when i focus on telling myself positive stories { i.e. yes, you can do this. you are smart and capable of figuring anything out as you go } my life is much smoother than when i tell myself negative stories { i.e. other people may follow their dreams but not you, elaine }. i really want the tools that this retreat will give me to further craft my story.

ladies, if you’ve been looking to get an inspiration infusion in your life then consider the retreat. if you think the retreat sounds wonderful but not your cup o’ tea then take a minute to square up against what is holding you back from doing something of this nature. consider it again. take a leap for the sake of growth. do you wanna come?

maybe you think the retreat sounds like a grand adventure, just not for you? then sponsor me! 

i know. i just panhandled. but seriously, someone should sponsor me because this momma is flat broke. partial donations will be accepted!

because, guess what. i’ve been following my dreams just like the retreats told me i should and in this world that comes with a price. i’m looking at it as an investment at the moment: very few returns in the beginning but a big payoff in the long-term.

getaway

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in case i hadn’t sufficiently rubbed it in your face that we spent the first couple of days this week in the woods, communing with birds and spirit animals then here is a whole entire post dedicated to just that.

i was having myself a time. my sweet mother joined us so this meant i was afforded some alone time and i spent it in the woods, in glorious natural woods. i feel i really need to make an effort to spend more time doing this. i really have no excuse since there are so many parks and green spaces in and near columbus. i take darla to the parks a lot and we do go on hikes but i don’t make alone time to do this and i think i really need it. my brain kept tapping into some of my most cherished memories as a child which always involved some camping trip in the woods or a stay at scout camp. i could feel how my brain operates differently in that setting. most of the time i feel like my brain takes in way too much information and i can’t focus in everyday life but in the woods my information inundation has a purpose. i feel like my vision is in panorama view the entire time. it feels right. i mean, i saw a spirit deer for cryin’ out loud.

i enjoyed little quite moments of solitude that left me yearning to make a solo cabin trip someday soon. nothing too long but maybe a 2 day excursion to the woods to have myself a walden weekend. please universe?

my daughter on the other hand had a different experience. this cabin had 3 tvs in it. 3 TVS!!! i was hoping this would be a break from television but it wasn’t for her. that’s how she chose to spend her time. can you see her up there in that last photo fighting the forest? because that’s what she said she wanted to do. i think darla may not be as much of a nature-girl as i am. and that’s ok….i guess. maybe she’ll come around but i know i wasn’t as focused on television and electronics at her age. i wanted to be outside, up in a tree, at the creek or in the woods. it makes me sad for her that she’s not getting to know the freedom of a rural childhood.

but she’s got her own thing going on. like turning party hats into unicorn horns that she has to use to impale a bull to the moon. i have the visual arts to thank for that.

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so, i’ll be carrying a little bit of the natural world around with me until i can get back. and next time we’ll be renting a cabin without 3 tvs.

week 42

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don’t you just love it when the week gets all it’s business out of the way by tuesday? our monday was a full, non-stop day of unschooling and then tuesday brought the first water birth i’ve supported. after that i was ready to take the rest of the week off.

this week has been entirely amazing. i don’t know what it is but fall brings about such a sense of peace for me. or maybe it is the acceptance that i’m really finding my groove in life. listen y’all, i’m really good at exploring the world with my little girl and i’m really good at supporting people while they have their babies. this is it for me. i’m finding a way to make this work. done deal. my life doesn’t look that great on paper right now { believe me. i just had to write it out on paper } but i’m really happy and fulfilled. i am so grateful.

unschooling: yay! learning is everywhere!! cards at the coffee shop, stopping at the neighborhood gardens to investigate what happens in the fall, and heading on a christopher columbus scavenger hunt were all a part of monday. we’re fortunate to have easy access to columbus themed learning activities. it’s kinda an annual thing for us. but this was the first time we took the tour of the santa maria. we did it on a whim and i’m glad we did b/c we learned on the tour that it’s going to be shut down for 2-3 years while the park gets renovated.

we also made an art project out of painting rocks for gilbert. i’m actually really impressed with darla and her care for gilbert thus far. she’s into it.

so that’s it from us for the week. we have lots of great things on the horizon that i’m looking forward to sharing in the right time. i’ll be bringing you word of a really great opportunity for the lovely females that read this here blog and some bits of personal news.

wishing you all a wonderful weekend! thanks for catching up on our week.

weekending 41

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this past weekend was kinda like we just lived this weekend over again. we traversed back to mike’s home town for this annual event, the last county fair in ohio for the year.

so let’s talk about the fish darla got at the fair. no, first let’s talk about the fair. ummmm it was fun and darla got a fish.

there, now we can talk about the fish.

you can see in that pic how happy she is to have her first pet. she’s really, really happy. i trusted darla to hold the fish on the way home. we made it to about 35 min in, less than 10 min from home, when i heard a pop from the back. i used jedi-like reflexes to scoop up the burst bag with just enough water left for the fish to {maybe?} survive. we sped along after that with darla yelling in the back and mike undesiring of pulling over to refill the water. this means i spent the last 10 min of our fun-filled day in complete anxiety that this fish was going to die in front of my eyes. this is a foreshadowing of how this animal is going to exist in our house, me thinks.

we made it. and gilbert winston falbert now lives in a big vase until i can find time to make the rounds to the thrift stores in hopes of finding an affordable tank. and i’m not entirely sure he’s eating correctly. and i can feel myself stressing about this fish already. i know i need to let it all go.

so i’m asking of you and the universe to help me to remember this is a learning experience. and that my girl is really happy to have her first pet and that’s what matters. she’s invested in this experience and has enjoyed taking care of him. she’s learning how to care for a goldfish thus far through youtube. we have plans on checking out some literature during our weekly library trip.  so this is a big opportunity for growth.

aaaaand, thankfully she’s really into dead things so when this fish dies in a week it’s not going to be a big deal.

week 41

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welcome to a week of unbelievably amazing ohio fall weather.

this is another one of those “look at all the cool things we do outside” posts because 1} i try very hard for you to like me and 2} we’re doing lots of awesome things outside. this is pretty much the one time of the year that living in the midwest is a benefit {sorry fellow midwesterners, you know it’s true}.

i’ve read that if you want to educate a child start with food because food is everything. we naturally fell into that a long time ago, as most families do. food IS everything. it’s certainly one of the first things a child comprehends completely. it’s pretty fantastic to see one subject weave itself so inextricably through one little person’s understanding of the world. darla is always motivated to help and learn when it comes to food. she really, REALLY loves to watch cooking and food prep videos on youtube. it’s easy for me to include her in food prep by saying “hey, we got a pineapple this week. let’s look up and watch a video on how to slice a pineapple.” and then she’ll be sitting there monitoring me to see if i do it correctly and giving me pointers. i’d say she’s involved with making the majority of the meals that take place in our house and i can only hope this will carry on into some independence and desire for deeper learning as she grows.

so, in short: if you’re looking to unschool or do some learning enrichment in the home have the kiddos be involved with your food. everything from procuring it, growing it, cleaning it, preparing it and disposing of it is a learning opportunity.

you can see we tackled a pumpkin and some apple picking this week. we roasted the seeds and turned that pumpkin into some bad ass pumpkin chili. the apple picking served as a learning experience for both of us. I had never been to a pesticide-free orchard before. it’s easy to say i don’t want my food to have pesticides applied to them but it’s a bit of a shock to realize that i’ve probably not had that much exposure to pesticide free food. this is a literal put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is situation. well, i’m happy we took on this experience. it took us quite some time to search through the trees to find apples that the pests hadn’t completely ruined. within 2 minutes of apple hunting i had decided that pesticide free food means i have to come to terms with having food stuffs that other organisms have already enjoyed a little. i’m surprisingly ok with that. it feels more like how it’s supposed to be. we’re not entitled to all the food, but we are entitled to share. when i talked to another mom there with her girls about the experience she agreed and said “that’s how you know it’s good. why would we want to put something into our bodies that nothing else wants to touch?”

on the personal side of things, mike and i passed the three years of marriage milestone. woo hoo! i’m going to be honest, it’s been a do-whatever-we-can-to-get-by-day-to-day kinda year for us. but sitting there on our anniversary i thought “yeah, i’d struggle through another year to be with this man.”  of course i would rather it be a year filled with success and winning the lottery, buying a road home and gettin’ the hell outta dodge kinda year but if it’s another year of eeking by then i’ll gladly do it. that’s my best and real description of love and dedication in marriage at this point. i wish i had something really romantic and inspiring to write for you, but i just have this dose of reality instead, which is, in its own way, kinda romantic.

so that second pic from the bottom is a game we invented this morning called hellen keller where we blindfold darla, spin her around and then challenge her to find different items while blind. it was really quite fun and i’m thinking this is going to be a great activity to have in my back pocket for the homebound winter months.

i hope you enjoyed the look at our week. i’m going to experiment with this week being a week + weekending edition. there is a lot going on with these beautiful fall days. thanks for checking in with us.

week 40

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dance parties are back. i’m hitting a stride with my doula work. and i’ve had a spike in my bacon intake. life is perfect.

well, not really perfect. some days it feels like my life is peachy keen and then other days it feels like, like…like adulthood just amounts to big messes that i don’t have energy to clean up, piles of broken things i don’t have the time to fix. i mean that literally and figuratively. some days it seems like i’m recovering from a string of things i forgot to do.

and that’s life. that’s just how it is. my path is about finding out how to live through these moments, this season.

the truth is i have no idea how i’m going to achieve my dreams and i’m learning to accept that vulnerability. all i know is i’m moving confidently in the direction of my dreams. and that’s all i’m responsible for. i don’t have to have all the pieces together yet. i just have to move. and i just have to groove. and i have to shimmy shake with my ambitions. because if i’m going to achieve some goals i’d like to have a little fancy footwork involved along the way.

so that’s what our week contained. steps forward in unschooling, steps forward in my doulaship, steps forward with living a sustainable and healthy existence. i’m learning to balance out my inner drive to take advantage of these warm days of getting out and about with the fact that sometimes we need to just chill inside even if it’s sunny and gorgeous. thus, the invention of windows. ha. i can feel my inner mammal preparing for the winter. i feel this need to be out and about because i’m really and thoroughly looking forward to hibernating.

although, i admittedly have a vision of wintertime bliss that has never been based in reality. my brain wants to tell me we’ll spend the winter curled up on the couch reading hours of books, watching movies and playing games next to the fire. and maybe that will happen. but you see, we don’t have a fireplace. so that tells me this vision of mine is not so realistic. i’ll probably make it through december before i start to feel like everything is covered with a thin layer of human funk and start wishing for warm days again.

why am i worrying about this? i don’t need to. it’s been 80 and october.

i was actually kinda lax about schooling this week. i just let darla do her own thing around the house most of the time. we only had one outing but it was a pretty fantastic one. i took darla over to the osu wetlands research area, a first time there for us. she and i sat very still and had a stare down with 3 deer before they went about doing their thing. i was impressed by d’s willingness to be quiet and take it in. and yes, i actually took her to a cemetery as an educational experience. we did some grave tracings and spent hours just exploring and talking. this fit in very well as an october activity. darla said “mom, i don’t think cemeteries are scary at all. i think they’re special.”

my weekend straddled a birth work workshop and my part-time gig. i’m feeling pretty exhausted from it all but it’s a good tiredness. i feel very fortunate to be able to do some continuing ed and to meet new birth lovers. it all made me feel very hopeful for the future.

and if i accomplished nothing else this week i figured out to conduct all future client interviews exclusively at Jeni’s locations. Yum!

week 38

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~week 38~

this may have been the week that darla finally started to get an understanding of the fact that her mom is a badass. i mean that in the most humble of ways.

i captured the exact moment in photo. that second one, where she’s looking up at me. you can see the pieces fitting together where she looks and knows “my mom is effing cool” or it might be something more like “i just farted…in a creek.” whatevs.

we spent a day creeking last week. it was a first for us. it blew her mind. ’nuff said. and to top it all off an OSU class joined towards the end and included darla in on their projects so she felt all kinds of big for her britches by the end of the day. it was perfect. i’m thanking the universe for this day.

and

i have to tell a little story. it’s a story about a mom who has been putting off telling her girl that said girl won’t be returning to preschool again this year. this mom is not procrastinating because she’s unsure or ashamed of homeschooling, in truth, she’s putting it off because she’s afraid of rejection. she’s been afraid her daughter will tell her that she doesn’t want to be at home with her mom and then this mom will feel her dreams dashed and feelings damaged.

ok, this mom is me.

standing in that creek that day, i decided to tell darla that we wouldn’t be doing school this year, or possibly any year soon. i explained that we would still hang out with friends and she would still learn but not in a school. i braced myself for her disappointment. i braced myself for her cry of independence.

but

she said “i know” in this very almost-grown-up voice. and then “schooling with you is better than being in a classroom.”

my heart jumped up into my throat. i felt relief rush over me. i felt it carried away with the cool current rushing around me feet.

she continued on to tell me that someday soon she would have to go away to college so she couldn’t stay with me forever. so, as far as i’m concerned she and i are on the same page with all this. although, i have this idea that her going to college is years away, i’m sure that she is right and that day will be upon us soon. in a blink. i can feel it all pushing onward just like the water in that creek. it’s funny how sometimes life can feel like its rushing on you like the river after a storm and then sometimes it dries up and slowly trickles by. But mostly, it flows on even and steady.

i’m so thankful to have this life and this girl.

these weeks go by and they are filled with more or less the same thing: running around exploring the world outside our home and creating some magical memories in our little corner of the universe. our household has a good balance going right now. i feel we’re on the verge of some changes but it is nice to experience the deep breath before the plunge. maybe it’s this transition from summer to fall. in a way it’s nice how summer lingers on a bit. the transition to fall always seems just a tiny bit gentler than winter to spring.

i’m happy to have this life. and i’m happy to share it here with you. i know i am lucky to have the opportunities cast at my feet everyday. thank you for being a part of that.

slate run

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oh how we love slate run. i think it’s been way too long since we were last there. we really got our farm on last week given that we were at aullwood just a day before but this time were both equipped with boots. boots make a big difference on a farm.

we started out the morning exploring parts of the park previously unknown to us. our visit started with the covered bridge. darla made me gallop with her back and forth across the bridge. she was ichabod and i was the headless horseman. we walked some short trails and paused for a bit in the prairie with the wildflowers. and it was at that moment that i was again struck by how thankful i am to have this life with her. i will keep my daughter in the wildflowers and out of the classroom for as long as possible.

i’m really looking forward to fall outings. i hope we get nice sunny days perfect for short trips back to slate run. d was pretty excited about getting to romp around after a flock of she-turkeys. she was not so enthused to mess with the males.

can i just say i’m glad i wasn’t born a turkey. i’m real sorry but they are quite ugly creatures.

oh and ps.

I JUST WANT TO DO THIS FOREVER!

Unschooling: Aullwood Farm

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our second half of our visit to Aullwood was spent at the farm. i found it very interesting that darla chose to spend most of her time and energy exploring was the herb garden. she asked about every single herb and we spent almost an hour smelling and comparing. there were hundreds of these little yellow butterflies that swirled around us every time we moved further along the path. i wish i had been able to get a picture of it but i’m glad i just left it as something to experience instead of document.

we thoroughly enjoyed visiting the animals but spent more time in the farm exhibit house.

another aspect i enjoy of unschooling is that it works even on days when i don’t really feel at my best. many days i’ve simply taken darla out into the world and let her be the guide about what we learn. i imagine it would be so hard as an educator on the days you feel less than tip top. all i have to do is provide an atmosphere in which learning can occur and be willing to interact as darla sees fit. it’s always very interesting to me to see the things she latches onto and inquires for more information. it’s usually not what i would have guessed and i’m thankful to be able to follow her lead.

thanks for checking in on our recent unschooling!