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!

weekending

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i found myself keeping the camera in my pocket this week. i’ve been trying to remain present. this of course means much of our weekend was not captured for sharing but i got some very important experiences here.

i just finished reading my first book on unschooling and i’m so thankful i did. now when i look back on pictures like this i’m reminded just how much there is to learn from daily life. i’ll be working on removing my fears of inadequacy and uncertainty this next year as darla will be home with me full-time.

we tried new markets and old markets, both of which had plenty to feast the mind upon. pictured above is darla trying oils and spices. i’m so impressed with her at these markets. she asks questions and is not afraid to engage the merchants. she always stops to look at something i never would have on my own, like the chocolate booth where we got a step-by-step, interactive break-down of how chocolate is made. we sampled milk chocolate, 70% dark chocolate and an 85%. darla tried the raw chocolate as well. she decided she liked the 70% best of all. how could i walk away from an experience like that and not acknowledge all the learning that happened there?

as for me, i walked to a destination that is frequently driven or biked in our life and it was a pleasantly different experience on foot. i stopped to watch this blue heron on my walk down to the summerfest. it was a nice, serene moment before heading into the masses.

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i also had a picnic dinner with my girl in the park and sat here, under this sycamore. i put my phone away and just watched her for the longest time. it felt wonderful to just watch her and see her interact with other children. the evening felt like it could be an early fall day. the park was filled with people out and about and it was nice to see everyone out except it made me feel lonely at the same time.

and by the way these pics are from different days of the weekend. darla choose to wear that dress all weekend and i can’t even remember if it was washed in between days or not. whatevs.

sending you my best for a lovely start to your week and i hope you and yours had a peaceful, wonderful weekend.

fair friends

we made it to the fair! i was worried that we weren’t going to make it this year. last year was so fairtastic {here, here, here, here and here} but this year we’ve been best in no show. see what i did there? thank goodness for $5 fair day. we had a pretty decent time and this year i finally felt secure enough to take darla on the sky tram. i’m not sure it was worth all the anxiety it caused me worrying that she was going to jump over the side but it sure is a beautiful way to take in the fairgrounds.

the kiddos milked a cow, did some rides, hustled adults for sugary treats…the usual.

sigh. our state fair is a great state fair.

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Unschooling: photography project

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we did a pretty simple unschooling photography project last week. it involved hopping on the bike, handing the girl my very old digital camera that has kinda become hers, and asking her to take pictures of anything she sees that she finds interesting on our ride.

anyone want to take a guess at how many pictures she took of my butt? almost as many as she took of her fingers.

we ended up down at the gardens and she took some pics of vegetables as we wandered around identifying plants.

it was simple and fun and we were learning all along. she snapped pics of some arborists working on trees in the neighborhood so we talked about their job. she summed up their job like this to me “arborists are humans that take care of trees and cut off their branches when they get sick.” so i think some concrete ideas were planted. {pun! tree pun!}

we discussed photography and of course the gardens. i rewarded her with some ol’ fashioned playground time for being such a good pupil.

simple, fun and on her level.

unschooling: strawberry picking

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last week darla and i went strawberry picking as one of our unschooling field trips. it was the first day of summer and let me tell you strawberry pickin’ is just about the best thing to do for the first day of summer. she and i spent a little less than an hour hauling in some sweetness and in that time we discussed attributes of the strawberry plant such as they seeds on the outside of the berry, the berries growing on the underneath side of the plant and the runners the plants send out. after that we discussed the principles of a market and how the price of things at a market or grocery store reflect the work of others to pick and transport. darla said “i prefer to pick them myself and do my own work because they taste so much better that way.” this means she gets it. this also means i let her eat berries in the field. oops.

the unschooling continued at home as we took on projects in the kitchen such as strawberry preserves, strawberry syrup from the discarded tops, strawberry cornbread muffins and fresh whipped cream for some snacking once we immediately brought them home.

you can check back in with us throughout the summer for more pickin’ field trips. I do believe July is when the black raspberries come in season and thems my favorite.

daily moment

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we’re going to go with that sweet top picture as my daily moment since i didn’t actually snap any pics of darla barking like a seal and scaring a whole camp of handicapable children on their outing.

and those others are just thrown in there as if to say “weeeeee! this manmade beach is so fun. join us. c’mon!”

and it was fun. even if the beach was more the consistency of cat litter than sand. it’s ok. if i close my eyes, stay only on my towel and pretend the redneck yelling is really the sound of the waves IT’S JUST LIKE THE BEACH.

maybe like a mississippi beach.

Impromptu Unschooling: Buck Creek State Park

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yesterday was a simple, fantastic day. it was a beautiful day for a drive. i love to be on the road. when i read Lolita i actually loved the thought of traveling the US and pulling off at all the brown signs, every roadside attraction. it seemed like such a great way to see the beauty of this country. the rest of the book…not so much.

so this summer i’ve made a promise to myself to see more of ohio in just that way. while driving home from Dayton we decided on the spur of the moment to investigate Buck Creek State Park and we found a beach! sure it’s a little man-made beach that we get here in the middle west but it served as a great unschooling opportunity.

we talked about rocks we found, counted boats, talked with other folks and even examined a dead fish washed up on the shore. i had to squash my conventional instincts of telling darla to get far away from it and not look but i reminded myself it was a teachable moment. we talked about what kind of fish it was and talked about having respect for deceased life.

darla befriended some older kids who were digging a castle and moat. some kids were digging and some were hauling water. i sat down with them and darla and pointed out the similarities between the sand structure and the man-made lake and then explained to them that the lake was made in almost the exact same way that they were constructing their castle moat. it was great to see how proud that made them of their work.

all in all it was a really great way to spend a perfect sunny day. we weren’t prepared for swimming so we’re headed to a closer lake today per darla’s request.

if you’re skeptically sitting there saying “it sounds like this unschooling stuff is just elaine taking her daughter places and then talking to her about it” then you got me. you’re exactly right. since this is the way my daughter has learned everything in her life thus far i don’t see any reason to change things up and make her memorize or take place in structured activities. maybe someday. but not today. and ummm not yesterday either.

summer sun adventurez

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am i correct that memorial day weekend is the kick-off to summer? it is in my brainz. since we spent today at the pool i’m going to go with yes.

warm weather means a lot of activity, right? i’ve made it a habit in the summers to make a list of adventure destinations for darla and i for the mornings when i know we need to get out and about but i’m drawing a blank. i’m planning lots and lots of outdoor exploration.

i’m a big believer in filling my child’s life with experiences. i just want the summer time to be about adventure and exploration, loose bedtimes, walking barefoot and watching out for bumblebees. i want firefly catching and wading in the creek up to our knees. i want pies and watermelon smiles. and i want music and dancing and sleeping outside to watch the meteor showers. i want trips and camping and staying up late to tell spooky stories which darla will insist upon.

does that sound good?

well, this is the beginning of my list. i hope to add some new destinations because i know novelty was always a big learning opportunity for me. i feel like there’s a lot of this big state we haven’t discovered yet.

any fun suggestions for outdoor stuff out there???

weekending: earthy

pairing the birthy and earthy has been a bit of a theme for me lately so let’s go with this.

our earthy part of the weekend was fulfilled by spending lots of time outdoors since the weather was amazeballs.

below you can see darla partaking in what started out as a backyard nature journal, turned watercolor backyard nature journal turned standard darla practice of painting herself blue. she painted our potted cherry tomato, our garden hose and outer space. since one of those is technically not in our backyard, and one of them is not really nature we’re going to have to work on this concept. but whatever. she done good.

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we took what is normally a 15 minute walk up to the ice cream shop and it somehow managed to take us a full 2 hours roundtrip. see her face? i’m such a mean mom to make her go get ice cream with me. right after this she started asking to be carried but we’ve been phasing that out. so we made a deal that we could just take our time and take a look at whatever we wanted along the way. {when i say “we made a deal” it means that she decided to stop whenever she wanted and i decided to deal with it } it’s really one of my favorite things to do with her to just go out and find what we can find. i’m happy to take advantage of the opportunities life gives me to slow down and do things like this with her, especially when there is ice cream at the end.

see:

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speaking of the nature influence: jeni’s chamomile ice cream. oh. mah. gawd. i paired it with cloverton and it was divine. simply devine. i might need it daily.

hope your weekend was swell. xoxo.

growing thingz

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one of the things i think darla and i share in common is that we are experiential learners. the best way for me to learn is to try my hand at something and to then take note of all my mistakes and make plans for improvements in future endeavors. i wish i could be a better direction follower and researcher but my most concrete lessons are always the ones i’ve had to teach and learn myself.

i feel this has been the biggest purpose of our larger scale garden this year. we’re learning side-by-side, a bit of unschooling for both of us. i love the fact that the gardening and planting has been something that darla has had a great deal of involvement with this time around. everything from running items to the composter, planting, watering, helping me to make a natural insecticide and even talking to the plants when they were little sproutlets in our house. i’m happy to have the help while i can before she becomes to grown-up to find the tasks fun anymore.

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momma daughter field trip!

we took a field trip down to the public garden plots our neighborhood rents out to take a tour of what other folks are doing. we came a couple of times last year to look but this time we were able to talk a little more in-depth about growing techniques because both she and i have more knowledge.

i am reminded by these activities that everything is a learning experience for her right now. i am really looking forward to this summer, to get back to some of these free-wheeling learning expeditions. i’m always amazed by how much she already knows how to do for herself and i’m reminded that this learning happens from life and not from books. i pray the universe helps me remember this when conventional wisdom starts making me think that i should be pushing her into structured school and learning.