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

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: home

most of my unschooling posts are from adventures out and about but the majority of our unschooling really happens in our home or from everyday living. a principle of unschooling i love is that learning comes from life. it comes from doing and everyday curiosity. it comes from letting my girl get into just about anything she has the motivation to. this results in an extremely messy house most of the time.

but darla reminds me often that “messy is about having fun” so we get into things a lot. and i try to use everything, all the doings of our life as teaching moments.

here are a few moments from this past week: darla drawing heiroglyphs on our concrete porch, drawing observations in her nature journal of a caterpillar she found, studied and played with for a few hours, and learning to play checkers {and re-learning for me} at our local coffee shop.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling this week.

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unschooling: batelle darby metro park

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it is gorgeous days like this one that remind me why i’m keeping this blog. i will cherish these times always.

so here is a not-so-short list of things i can remember that we discussed and learned at batelle darby:

  • architectural structures
  • rock formations
  • gravity
  • the difference between bison and buffalo {fact: there have never been buffalo in America, only bison.}
  • flower names
  • the ecosystems of a stream
  • touched a turtle and a snake {not me, but darla did}
  • practiced the different sounds a rock makes when it’s thrown in the water
  • looked at decaying wood
  • hiked in woods and prarie and compared them
  • looked at bones and pelts
  • examined feathers on bird’s wing and magnification
  • different frog sounds
  • bird migration patterns
  • bees
  • trees

and honestly, i can’t remember b/c there was just so much to take in. we spent a good 4 hours there. 4 hours and no bison, however. they were hiding for the day but that gives us a reason to go back.

i am so thoroughly in love with the metro parks system. I am hoping we have a good 2-3 more months of outdoor exploration. we still have so much to see and revisit.

i hope these posts show how truly thankful and grateful I am to have the opportunity to spend these days running around with darla. it’s hard to imagine ever doing anything differently than the way we are now but i know to take each day as it comes.

i’m just filled with gratitude and love when i look back on some of these days. i want to put that down here for my darla.

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.

unschooling: wind and solar energy

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more unschooling from last week. yay!!! it started out as a venture to a local farm for BLACK RASPBERRIES. YES THIS IS IN CAPS AND READS LIKE I AM SHOUTING AND IT’S BECAUSE I’M SHOUTING. I LOVE LOVE LOVE BLACK RASPBERRIES. THEY ARE MY CHILDHOOD ENCAPSULATED IN FOOD FORM.

let’s move on just as we moved on to glacier metro park. we enjoyed an absolutely delicious lunch of peaches, black raspberries and blueberries then wandered around until we discovered the wind & solar energy station. the park has interactive tools darla had an enthusiasm explosion over. this was one of those outings where i was spewing information and what darla took out of it was “the sun is hot and the breeze is mother nature’s breath.” not quite what i was saying but i’ll take it.

and then something happened that made me think maybe she does listen to me every once in a while…

while she was cranking the turbine she started talking about how her energy is a renewable energy source!!!

she gets it. she has learned from this lifestyle of riding bikes, and walking, and using your own energy to accomplish something that humans have a vast resource of energy available and it is ourselves.

and this has me thinking:

we have millions of americans in gyms because our society is so sedentary now that we can’t keep weight off our bodies. we also have an energy crisis. how, HOW!?, has no one yet invented a gym where members get on machines and create an energy source instead of getting on machines that use energy. like a reverse treadmill. i’ve seen it at festivals: get on this bike and charge your phone sort of thing. can someone invent a gym that does that?

should i be typing this here? i mean i don’t even have a copyright on this website yet. who do i talk to about this?

i’m sure it has something to do with working out who “owns” the energy and how to disperse it blah blah blah but i used to be at the gym and just feel so bad about all the electricity being used up for people to “work out” when the answer might be as simple as riding your bike or walking to your destinations.

i better stop now before this post turns into rant status but in conclusion, i think she and i are both learning as we move through this together and that’s all that matters.

*yes, i realize she doesn’t have her top on. no, i do not care. she’s 4 and black raspberry stains do not come out, people. if your child says “i’m hot can i take my shirt off” while she’s eating black raspberries you say yes.