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.


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 39

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people, in my book the most important thing that happened in week 39 was that i gave myself bangs again. bangs! nothing else matters. bangs are a good fall + winter look for me.

doesn’t that look like a good week? life is busy but it seems busy with the things that are really important. i feel very connected to all the avenues i’m putting my effort into right now. it’s a grand feeling. by the way, i’m digging presenting life in a weekly format on here. i feel it allows me to tell our story in the ways i want. i also feel that it requires much less work.

i find myself living my days in amazement of all the ordinary and out-of-the-ordinary things transpiring. whether it’s watching darla ride her trike or visiting with friends that we haven’t seen in ages, it all seems ridiculously generous of the universe to bestow all this on us.

my week contained warm days running around to parks and outdoor destinations. i had a nice balance of friends and family.  i experienced free time and down time. i walked through prarie fields and city streets. i danced my calves off at a wedding. i say calves because they honestly feel like they are going to fall off my body. i got to hug and squeeze my wonderful, amazing friends and talk about how we all like to be in bed by 11pm now. I got to hug and squeeze my husband. I got to hug and squeeze my daughter.

i’m a person that very much values taking in new experiences. but i have to say, this weekend reminded me how important it is to revisit some of the things i’ve already seen before. visiting my old stomping grounds reminded me of all i’ve already experienced and gave me space to be thankful for that. i have a ritual every time we visit DC of stopping by the apartment where we first brought darla home as a newborn. that place means so much to me and in times past it’s been a mournful visit. this time just felt good. i feel deep emotion being there but it’s no longer marked with a pang to return back to a time gone by. it’s now pulsing with thankfulness that i’m even able to come glance up 7 stories into the air and remember a little baby rolling on floors.

i look back on the list of experiences from the past week and realize how important it all is. from the everyday-doings of the beginning of the week to the wedding bash at the end and i’m filled with the same amazement and thankfulness for both and everything in between. it’s an extraordinary existence to be able to sit down and play a game of pick-up sticks with my girl first thing in the morning. just as extraordinary as running around making the most of a big city weekend celebration. i used to think only the extravagant, grand-travel adventures we took were important.

it might be the bangs, but now i see that the quiet moments spent here in our home or out on daily errands are just as important, if not more. because that is my life. for now. and i celebrate that. maybe my life will be something different in 5 years as it certainly was 5 years past. but for now it is grocery lists, homeschool outings, prenatals & postpartums and the occasional out-of-town trip.

and i’m really, really happy to say this is my life right up there in those pictures.

Unschooling: Aullwood Audubon Center

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d’s absence all weekend made me really ambitious towards unschooling last week. we didn’t even make it home before it began. we had stopped at the aullwood center last year as a fam but only saw a fraction of what the park had to offer so we stopped off again last week and spent the rest of the day there.

i’m splitting this post into two sections because there was soooo much going on with this day i kinda worry it was information overload. we spent the beginning of the trip in the center learning about turtles and creek life, bees, animal bones and tracks and the usual nature center stuff. the highlight here was petting the turtles. i really spent most of my time explaining to darla why she could not get in the turtle habitat.

then we took our time on the .75 mile hike to the farm through the woods. d was in an especially determined mood and lead the way through the forest picking up on all sorts of foresty details. i thought it was cool that some of the trees were labeled with the date and causation of their fell.

we stopped to say hello to an especially woolly friend at the gate into the farm. i love this outing and hope to return to the Aullwood Audubon Center again soon. some highlights from the farm will be coming shortly.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling today!

unschooling: burial mounds

whilst poking around on the Ohio Historical Society website the other day i discovered a historical treasure practically on our doorstep. yes, this is actually how i feel about it. why? because i was a history minor and a geek, that’s why. the wheels for day trips and outings have been spinning ever since but i knew i wanted to start with Shrum Mound. Located less than 2 miles from our house, I felt this would be a perfect doorway to connect darla’s fascination with ancient egyptian culture and mummies closer to home.

monday afternoon we packed up and headed to this almost forgotten little site. it’s bordered now by a quarry and condo developments. somehow, the forsight of preservationists in 1920 to protect this piece of land rang sadly in my heart as i gazed around at the surroundings, wondering what the ancient people who had chosen this as the final resting place for many of their kin would think of the site today.

but it’s a beautiful little piece of land.

and when i told darla about where we were going and what we were doing she could only exclaim “oh! oh!” and jump up and down.

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if you don’t believe me about her excitement, i present you with the below photo. i did not instruct her to do this. this pose, and honey-boo-boo-esque expression are something she art directed. my child is REALLY into burial places and practices. I’m ok with it. She is tuned into the sacredness and I’m happy to see how a fascination is fostering real respect for customs and life.

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these few pieces of information were all we really needed to build a day of learning. miss d was excited to make the hike to the top and look around.

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now you may have noticed the markings on her body. darla decided to engage the outing by drawing tattoos on herself. she has a penchant for body art but has learned from our readings that many native american tribes and ancient peoples tattooed their warriors as a sign of respect and honor. below is a picture of her making up a detailed story about the lives of the people buried in the mound, which her tattoos told the story of, similar to hieroglyphs {her words}.

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let’s get a close-up of that, shall we?

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it was a small little space but i’m sure it seemed a great adventure to her. the area was walled off and kept clean. i let her explore on her own as much as she liked. that’s kind of the advantage with such a high vantage. when you’re sitting on top of a great big pile of dirt you can see everything.

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she loved climbing and descending the trails and exploring the wall. i wanted to include this photo below to show the butterfly that swooped into the frame.

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i had brought along a couple books that seemed to connect with the space perfectly; our Nature All Year Long book and The Secret Garden, which darla has also taken to. we had packed a lunch and after we ate, i read to her for well over an hour while she played.

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she scampered around in the dirt and had a great time pretending that the wall around the mound was the wall of the secret garden and she was the robin that led mary to the garden. she gathered and made a nest and happily sat roosting on the nest while listening.

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it eventually got late and we packed up but i wanted to include this day as one of great success for us. this day showed how much can be learned from such a simple place. there weren’t tons of displays or exhibits. it was just a space open for our exploration in a way that can be out of reach at other sites. we explored nature, spirituality, history, literature, architecture and geography all in one simple setting.

i want this last picture to remind me that sometimes I can have the best time just sitting with my girl on a big pile of dirt.

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unschooling: ohio historical society indoor session

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i’m going to begin this post with a pun. brace yourself.

i can really see myself in that vintage airstream.

oh gosh that’s good. you’re probably embarrassed now that you’re reading that.

but as a matter of fact i can see myself in that vintage bathing suit too. and in that vanity. wait, that’s you. i can see you in that vanity. but i can also see myself and envision a life buzzing about the sweet 50s modular home we toured at the ohio historical society last week. why was i born into the wrong decade?

i guess it’s because i was born when i was so i could birth you at the time you were born and everything is right as it should be. but i’ve never felt very attached to this time period. i’m nostalgic for things i never even experienced. this is weird. don’t be this way when you grow up.

anyway, i want you to know how much i enjoyed this day with you. there was so much to take in at the historical society. i loved watching you check out the 1950s home. i loved the somewhat disturbingly detailed scenario you were making up about it being your house as we went through. it’s pretty rad the entire exhibit was so interactive. at least i think it was…maybe we weren’t supposed to touch things, play with toys and put on clothes…but we did. i wonder if you’ll remember this day. can you stop whatever hover activity you’re doing right now as you read this and come tell me if you remember this day? thanks.

this is just half of the day. we spent the afternoon outside and i’ll post that for you separately.  and one last thing, since a future you is reading this, i hope you will have good news for me that i somehow managed to acquire that bathing suit and airstream from the past. i’m assuming there’s time travel. actually, this blog is a portal.

unschooling: blacklick woods

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i’m determined to have our unschooling take us through as many of the columbus metro parks as possible this summer. we added blacklick woods to our list of faves this week. last week was pretty light on unschooling adventures. friends were in town so our lessons for that week were mostly about “hey when you’re besties fly in from the westies you drop everything and spend time with them” which i happen to believe is very good subject material.

so, monday brought us a really beautiful, perfect day for being out and about in the woods. our very first “lesson” was talking about how to read the map and determining our path. blacklick had a perfect length loop hike and a great nature center. darla decided we should visit the nature center before and after our hike. the center had all sorts of information on wildlife native to the woods & insect inspection stations. you can see we spent some time at the touchable objects station where D examined fossils, rock samples, horns and feathers.

the entirety of the hike took us about 25 mins. it would have been shorter but we stopped to make friends along the way, checked out fungi, frogs in the bogs, and even got to see a hawk on the hunt from extremely close up.

our visit ended by spending some time at the observation window which lines the entire back of the center. furry, feathery animals of all kinds come right up to the windows and eat undisturbed by the human folk. d got a real kick out of a momma racoon with her 3 kits and sang the pompoko theme song to them. personally, i favored the numerous chipmunks.

you know, this whole unschooling summer has felt kinda like girl scout camp to me. and that’s a pretty good feeling. i loved girl scout camp! i feel such a calling to this way of bringing up my daughter. i’m looking forward to seeing where else this path where take us.

thanks for checking out this unschooling outing of ours. good luck in your educational endeavors.

unschooling: raspberry picking

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we toned it down on the unschooling last week since we did so much the week before, not to mention the precipitation issue. the cooler temps did make for a very nice outing to picturesque mitchell’s berries. yes, those are sweatshirts on those boys. we went with our friends visiting from abu dabi. these unseasonably cool temps were quite a trip for them.

you could almost call this just an outing. i didn’t really try to do too much in-depth convo about the raspberry picking process since darla was having a good time with friends. the last thing kids want to do is listen to their parents when other kids are around. but the nice thing about unschooling is that i don’t have to stress if i didn’t impart every bit of knowledge possible along the way. they learned on their own from the experience. they will remember the thorns. they will remember discovering that the deep red, squishy berries are sweeter and juicier than the bright red, firm ones. they will remember the difference between the black raspberries and the red. hopefully they will remember the beautiful weather and forget the moments of tiredness and small squabbles. i know that’s how i’ll remember it.

our visit was at the very beginning of raspberry season so i’m hoping to make it back to mitchell’s again. it was a simply lovely set-up. plus, we gobbled up most of the berries fresh so my stores for preserves were greatly depleted by jam time.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling today.