raspberry picking

purple raspberries

momma portrait

berry fields forever

darla picking berries

pregnant in the berry patch

bump and berries

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berry goodness

when i was a young girl it was my job to pick the berry bushes outside the back of our house. i find it rather funny that i pay people now to let me do it at their house, when i acted like it was SUCH A HARD CHORE back in my youth. but still, it does take me back to that time in my life and i hope darla will look back fondly at going to the berry fields with me since we don’t own our yard to plant berry bushes and give her the chore of berry picking.

well, she didn’t look on it very fondly today, that’s for sure. last year it was a novelty. this year it was one of those things her ol’ pregnant mom dragged her along for. so, i eventually just handed her my phone and told her she could just take pictures if she wasn’t interested in picking and i’m glad i did because she had a few good ones in there amongst the hundred or so she snapped away. it’s nice to have some pics of the big bump amongst the berries.  i especially love the second photo, which isn’t that flattering of an angle for me or facial expression but it accurately depicts how it was out there: hot, sticky and pretty uncomfortable but incredibly gorgeous and so worth it.

worth it because i got my first taste of black raspberries. i’m 100% telling the truth when i say that i’ve been having anxiety that this baby will come during black raspberry season and i’ll miss out entirely. this was still pretty early for my black beauties but we got enough to wet my whistle for the taste and leave me satisfied should this human come before we can get back to the ripe patches next week. i will type it in all caps again because i’m serious that BLACK RASPBERRIES ARE MY CHILDHOOD ENCAPSULATED IN FOOD FORM AND I LOVE THEM.

{ people of central ohio, if i could send you anywhere for your raspberry needs it would mitchell’s berries. they are simply lovely, affordable and delicious. tell them we sent you on your next visit! }

how to get started with unschooling

alley walk

breakfast doodle

park and pond

ok, this is not really a how-to post. i just put that up there because people like how-to posts. this is a semi-how-to post. i started writing out a longer post about it and decided to scrap it because i can’t write something that sounds like i know what i’m talking about when really this has been an experiment for us; a crazy, wonderful, challenging experiment. so these are some things i learned along the way and you can figure out if, when and how you’d like to implement them into your life. see! you’re unschooling already!!!

first, i just want to say how rad this year has been. i hope hope hope this time is one of the things i look back on and cherish most in later life. i certainly cherish it now. if you have any inclinations towards unschooling at all, i say follow them at least for a little while to see how you feel. i don’t think you’ll regret it long term. maybe in the short term when it feels heavy, but not in the long run.

the biggest things I’VE learned while unschooling:

1. learning is every minute of everyday. whether it’s a walk down the alley, a doodle session at the local coffee shop, or a visit to a nature preserve in a local park, there is learning taking place in all of it. and the generosity of that is astounding.

2. you have all that you need to be a good student in life. you don’t need materials. you don’t need lesson plans. you don’t need anything extra than what is already laid before you and within you. the world is vast in its bigness and smallness so the opportunities for learning are infinite. this has changed my entire way of looking at the world. my worldview seems so bountiful now after experiencing unschooling. all we have to do is step out our front door. one of our unschooling mottos is “let’s find what we can find and see what we can see.”

3. let go. this was the hardest. i had to let go of my previous thoughts of education. i had to let go of expectations and my desires for my daughter’s education for a year. in the beginning i think i almost tried too hard to make sure we were out and “learning.”  i had to accept that my daughter was going to find very valuable learning material from television and computer games. my ideal for her education was anything but that when i set out but the fact is those are powerful learning mediums that we as adults utilize a great deal.  i had to let go of my control and realize that she finds value there that i can’t see yet. i don’t know what her future holds. how do i know what importance television and computer games are going to come to pass in her adulthood?

so, darla is headed to formal schooling next year. i have mixed emotions about it but i know it will be a good thing and i know that this year has prepared her in numerous ways. how could you look at that first photo and see anything but a young girl confidently marching on to find what she can find and see what she can see in this world.

if you’d like more resources on unschooling you can find them under the unschooling tab at the top.

our return to the outdoors {and some thoughts on unschooling}

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we’ve returned to the great outdoors for our days, finally. these days have been bittersweet as i know that, at least for now, this chapter of our free wheelin’ unschooling days is coming to a close. it’s the right decision for us at this moment and i have high hopes that we’ll see darla in the right atmosphere for the next phase of her education experiment. because that’s what it is in the end right? an experiment? each generation comes along with ideas and tests them out in the big experiment that is the evolution of the human species so i don’t have to worry about making *the right decision* for her. it’s all a gamble, no matter which way you slice it. i feel like education is one of those areas of life that many people take staunch stances, sure that their way is the best but from where i stand i feel like it’s all a gamble. it’s all a dance and at some point it’s time for this group number to narrow down to a solo effort. i feel darla has lent her voice towards the desire to try out school so that’s what we’ll do.

and it doesn’t feel as heavy as it once did. i’m not stressed. i feel that as she’s grown older and come into her autonomy these decisions that we’re supposed to navigate are not as loaded as they once were. one of my main goals as a parent is to be able to trust that my daughter has what she needs inside of her to create her own path and that she always has. that is just where i’m at with this journey. a few years back i felt like i could feel the weight of every decision as we pressed on into the future. now i’m more at peace with the fact that it’s really my daugther’s right to figure out how the path of her own life is going to run. she must be her own and i must be my own. i’m settling into this role of “guide” much better than i ever have felt as “mom.” as darla told her friend the other day “no ones the boss of me. my mom and dad just help me figure out how to be the boss of myself.”

maybe i can get this next child to call me mother-guide.

so this leaves us with one last summer, one last summer of flexibility and adventure. this leaves us a few short months of mother + daughter roaming until we all go through the very big learning experience of incorporating another human into this fold. how’s that for unschooling?

and then i’ll get to start this all over again. and who knows, if we get a year of school under our belt and find it’s not the best fit and we find a way for me to be able to accomplish my work as well as help two children educate themselves then maybe we’ll take that path.

maybe not. it’s all a great experiment, after all.

creek skipping

 fallen tree

 stone steps

our week

a

small

collection

of moments

from our week.

 the lovely bones

^^^ unschooling is back. bone gazing at the audubon center. ^^^

mother daughter pedicure

^^^ a long overdue beauty sesh with my main girl ^^^

 D in pottery class

^^^ back in pottery class ^^^

 doritos in the baby cradle

^^^ got a bag of doritos; by far the most important thing that happened all week.^^^

hope you enjoy a great weekend.

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.

week 43

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our unschooling this week was pretty lax and very experiential. you may have seen we spent the first part of the week cabining at hueston woods. we hit up the park’s nature center for a few hours for some darla-learnin’. i very much dug the center’s wildlife refuge because i got to see two types of owls at close range and you should know that owls are my spirit animal, even if a deer is trying to make a run for that position.

we rounded out the week with some of our favorite people at the pumpkin patch b/c that’s obviously where you should take your children when it’s snowing in little pellets. despite the almost freezing temps, the kids were peeling off layers to romp in the barn. it’s nice to be in environments where the kiddos can be wildly independent and not worry about them b/c everything is basically padded.

thanks for checking in our week of good times and learning through living.

weekending 42

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it’s boot weather. this weekend was very much out and about. friday is looking to be our family day this fall. we braved the homecoming crowd to take in the blues for smoke exhibit in the afternoon. this was a precursor to our friend’s performance there friday evening with Lonnie Holley. Both performances blew my mind but Lonnie gave me a new catch phrase that’s been stuck in my head: thumbs up to mother universe.

between the two wexner events we walked past a new little donut spot {literally named the little donut shop} and had to stop in for some tasty maple bacon goodness. mike got a samoa and darla got her standard sprinkles special. those last two pics are us as cheerleaders for the columbus marathon. this was my first time as a spectator at a marathon and it was more inspiring and entertaining than i thought it would be. that might be due to the pair of sideliners dressed up in the horse mask, followed by his friend clapping cups behind him up and down the road. it was fun to cheer on the runners.

i guess this is the only time of year we visit the wexner center since the last time we went was about a year ago. it’s a great way for me to make observations about darla’s cognitive progress, though. last year she didn’t really want anything to do with looking at the exhibit. this year she was just really motivated to look at only the things she wanted to take in, which is pretty wonderful in my book. no standardized tests needed here!

but it does make it a bit hard for mike and i to have a personal experience. luckily, the wexner offers free tours on thursdays so we can return again at a later date.

but what i mainly want to say about life thoughts from the weekend is how thankful i am to have this little family that runs around getting involved in so much life. i can let myself get pretty stressed out at times about the fact that laundry piles up, dishes don’t get done and there never seems to be enough time to clean up all the messes. and then i remember that’s a sign that i’m living my life. i’m not simply maintaining it. a clean house is life management, not life. we get out there. that may be our strongest area as parents up until this point, we get darla out for experiences. she’s done a lot in these short years. she’s learned to be the master of her own universe. she’s learned to seek out life. and for that i’m thankful.