Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Unschool Diaries

The year has begun. Does it ever end, really? No. But my letter of intent to the DOE says September 1st-August 31st. So I guess officially it has restarted.

Little S has calmed down, or maybe I'm just used to her shenanigans. We had to learn each other. My dishwasher and robot vacuum still help me keep a clean house. Motherhood still means Grocery Pick Up at Wal-Mart, but not necessarily crock pot dinners every night. I'm sure when the next one comes along, we will be right back to slow cooker meals. Because those are the stages of Mom life. 

Summer break meant swim team for is, so as opposed to sleeping in like school children across the country, we left the house earlier that any homeschooler ever should! 7 A.M. As in, Morning! There was still fog clouding my view as I made my way down to the pool. It meant 4 hour swim meets twice a week. Afternoons inside recovering from the early hours. Trips to the beach, reading in hammocks, camping, hiking, and kayaking on the weekends. It also brought fun activities like raising tadpoles, gardening (making homemade spaghetti sauce and pickles), vacationing, summer camp, etc. etc. 

Now here comes Fall. I love Fall homeschooling. With all the sleeping I did in my last few months of pregnancy last year, I forgot all the fun things Fall homeschooling brings. Fall means Heritage Girls begins again. I am co-leading those sweet girls this year. Prayers much appreciated. This year we added infant story time at the library into the mix. They even have monthly homeschool kitchen science and tween programs like guitar lessons. We are at the library so much this year. I also recently looked at some improv classes for Big S. We sha'll see where that goes. Church on Sundays. Of course our regular family outings, which are slowly transforming into trips to the Apple orchard and pumpkin patch. And I try to make sure we rotate weekly afternoon play dates with friends. Can't neglect time with friends. Play is learning too. Speaking of that, we are home most days.  I feel so strongly that Little S needs that time to drag toys around and climb on top of the dog and dance and read books and destroy the house morning, noon, and night. She needs time to play in the kiddie pool on the porch and roll in the grass out front. And Big S needs time to write in her own chapter book (which is almost done!), bake cakes and cookies and breads to practice for her business. She needs time to play toys (baby dolls mostly), crochet, edit videos, put together stop motions, and read her Nancy Drew books. Quiet time is a must these days. Besides Sara sleeping, I need it. I get to read my Bible and pray, do a Bible study I am working on, read my books-Volume 2 of Story of the World (Don't laugh. I feel like I need to relearn History! It is so beneficial in my understanding of the Bible too.) and Trial and Triumph (full of stories on church history and martyrs over the years.) Big S uses the time to read her books and pray. (She doesn't spend as much time with God as I would like, but I don't want to force it. It is her relationship and her time to manage. I just try to lead by example and pray that her eagerness to be near to God frequently througout the days grows as she grows.) It is a nice time of day anyhow. 
Together we have agreed on minimalism in our "school" this year. In the mornings I read her awake with the Gutenburg book on insects. fNights-if she feels like it-she does a small math lesson on her own in a book called Master Books Living Math. To be honest, if She frequently turned it down, I would probably coerce her to do it. She needs to know math and the struggle is real for her. Learning through life is not clicking just yet.  She seems to enjoy it though. It's super simple. She reads a story about a family on a mission trip and how they use math in their every day life. It periodically introduces a new concept and then builds on it. Stories are a page long with 5 or so practice problems. And once a week we do a Bible study in the afternoons-just her and I. That's a good time to connect too. 
Our insect book recently inspired a trip to the park to look for bugs. We pulled into the parking lot and Sam instantly asked to go see the webs in the trees. They turned out to be webworm nests!! Neither of us have seen inside one before. We watched them for about an hour and researched them...We looked in the water. Found lily pads. Watched the ants crawl underneath the outdoor blanket we were sitting on. I walked next to the creek, turned over a rock, and found something I never in my life will probably see again. I brought it to Big S. It was a caterpillar in the process of forming its cocoon!!!! On a rock!!!! We could actually see it moving around in there. We just stared in awe-for a long time. By time we got home, the cocoon was fully formed and you couldn't see inside at all. We put it in our "butterfly pavillion." Can't wait to see what kind of moth it is. It was just the refresher I needed. To remind me why we homeschool/unschool. Everything I listed-the quiet time, reading together, counting kayaking as school, all of it is why. But those day trips to explore outdoors (and play on the playground afterwards of course!) Those are my favorite days. I look forward to more as Little S grows older and can help-an extra set of eyes never hurts. 

Side Note: We have made some ventures for Little S too, including a trip the the Creative Discovery Museum and a trip to a park that is wheelchair accessible. I love it because it is perfect for babies and toddlers-low to the ground with ramps and lots of slats, no stairs. There was also a pond nearby. We found lots of Dragon flies-which are freakish creatures by the way! And we saw a spider spinning its web with its hundreds of newly hatched babies close by. 

Big S recently turned 9. She is half grown according to the US government. Where has the time gone? We live life slowly, but it has gone by so fast. I guess we will just keep spending our time watching the bugs and hoping it will slow down.

Lighting Drawing-She drew hair on the back of the paper. 

Old School Play-Who needs toys?

Infant Storytime

We didn't try to make the eclipse educational, but it looks like she learned something. "Eclipse Stages" 

You can still see the caterpillar at this point. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Unschool Tags

This is why #unschoolingrules!

I was reading Sandra Dodd's Big Book of Unschooling, and one of her essays had tags that described a day (because there in no typical day) in unschooling. You just put down a list of words that could be that day.

I thought it would be cool to do. I thought it would make me feel better about what all we get done in a week vs. a day. (We have embraced unschooling like never before this year!) And it did. I just started where I was at. I didn't pick one of our "better weeks." I just did the week starting on the day I read the chapter. I actually only remembered to capture 6 days worth of "tags," and I can't for the life of me remember day 7. Here is what I got:

Lemonade Stands, Making Change, and International Adoption, Church, Adoption, Shopping for Dog, Hidden Trails, Bamboo, Cranes, and New Plants, Building Hammock Stands, Caring for Sister, Trampolines, and Playing with Friends Outside, Dogs Socializing, Walk in the Park, Hammocks, Singing, Reading, Chiropractors, Praising God, and Leveling Up at Heritage Girls,
Gardening, Bridge to Teribithia, Math, Binge Reading Bridge to Teribithia,
Board Games, Books, Billions and Trillions, and Dolls.

What about You? Any other unscoolers out there willing to take the challenge?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Just when I think I have it, I don't. I have never felt more defeated. 99% of the time I feel like I am running on fumes, even when Hubby is home to help me.

She is such a high needs baby. She wants me all the time already. And she nurses every hour and a half. (I've already had my milk supply and nutrients checked.) It is a comfort thing. She doesn't like her car seat because she isn't around me. Big sister tries to interact and keep her happy, but it only works 50% of the time. And even then, she can only be held off for so long.

I truly have no idea what I'm doing here. She just cries SO MUCH. And the only thing that helps is Mom and the boob. We took her to the chiropractor to get adjusted today. Maybe that will help. She has been asleep in my arms ever since. That's another thing, she doesn't sleep without me. It would be different if I could just get 1 one hour nap a day from her, but I can't even get that.

I'm a good Mom, really. That's why I thought I'd be better at this. But she just needs SO much of me. And there are two other needy people in my life that need a lot of me too. I truly appreciate that my family loves me and feels attached to me. BUT it's physically and emotionally exhausting.

This last weekend we went on vacation t to an indoor water park. The whole time I was either nursing or passing the baby off in hopes that I could take Sam down one slide before she started screaming. And of course the whole time I was waiting to go down the slide, I was worrying about the person who was holding Sara-either my Mom or Jessie. I enjoyed vacation. The hot tub was nice, but I was needed the entire time by somebody.

On the way home, Sara screamed and screamed and screamed. She finally fell asleep for 20 minutes. Sam was already asleep, so I worried the entire time if Sara was breathing. I wouldn't have been too worried except that she worked herself up too much and threw up several times and choked. We kept having to pull over.

While she was sleeping, we exited. Almost home, at last....Then Sam woke up crying and panicking because she felt sick, which had a domino effect. The little one woke up screaming too.

Parenthood...I have never felt so lost, so defeated. Sara is so hard. I love her and I am so thankful for her, but I feel like I don't know how to be her Mom. And that is tough. These last 4 months have been the hardest 4 months of my life. I just hope it gets better.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The New Norm...For Now

9:30: Wake Up Call, Eggs or Cereal for Breakfast-Bananadiets how busy we are.

By 10:30 We are fed, dressed, and the plants are watered.

Of course I have been up since 7:00 with Hubby. I sent him off, fed baby, showered, cleaned house or paid bills.

Then we just do what we want, usually a puzzle or reading Story of the World, Narnia, etc. One day we watched a documentary on child development. Yesterday we started her Science Fair project I am not one for schedules, but I do like a rhythm.

By 12 we are done and I get to enjoy Sara some. Then it is a big meal on the boob and down for a nap. Sam and I will usually have our quiet Bible during that time. But on pretty days, she is outside in nature exploring-which is where we probably where we were all day while we read and spent time together. I leave my bedroom window open so I can see and hear her.

Afternoons I work Wednesdays for a few hours and we have swim club on Thursday. So we have Friday and Saturday at home-usually. But Saturdays can be unpredictable, as they are weekends for everyone else. And with the weather getting prettier Sunday-Tuesday are for church, family/friend time, and trips to parks or soon...kayaking and camping again!

Oh, unschooling in the warm months is as good as it gets. The cold weather is a bummer and recovering from birth/getting used to a new baby during that time has been tough. But we have adjusted. We have met our new normal.

It had been a ride, but it has been a great year to truly immerse ourselves in learning while being laid back-guilt free.  I feel much more confident that our laid back approach will turn good results. Since last February when I was sick, to September and October where I was always tired and sleeping, she has grown and matured and taken charge of her own learning. She has expanding interests and she can find her own books. She asks a lot of questions and understands things better.

She has learned about child development from conception to 3 months. She saw the labor and birth of her sister. She has watched countless documentaries, her favorite being one on twins.  She has started a garden, we have, as a family. She has learned about the Exodus and the lineage of the Isrealites. She has learned about nomads and ancient Egyptians, gods and goddesses, the fertile crescent promised land, the seas in the middle east, mission trips, Togo, India, Paris...She has become immersed in a Pixar series about animation. She has participated in numerous volunteer projects like Feed My Starving Children. And on the "school side" she has perfected her single digit multiplication and division. And is 100% independant on her reading. And even finished 4 living books along with the classic, Narnia. And this is all without effort. This was...life. That is with us spending a lot of our home days just talking, relaxing, and playing. Or on my part the last few months, feeding and calming a crying baby.

Update: The older she gets, the more interests she has and there is a whole world of opportunities. And sometimes she has to choose one thing over another because they are at the same time or it costs too much to do both. This Summer she is joining swim team! Swim first thing in the morning, and night too-if we choose, and swim meets 1-2 times a week! Luckily it is only for 6 weeks! But it will get us out of the house early in the morning to enjoy the weather and Sara will get to swim for free every day too. Not top mention the exprience will be a great addition to add to her list. This year she will go to her first concert and her first drag race-and that is just in the next few months. Who knows what the reat of the year will bring and what interests will be sparked?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Battle With Breastfeeding

Nursing your baby is the most natural thing in the world. We were made for it and it comes easy to us. From the first latch, nursing is nothing but an amazingly supernatural bond that can never be broken.

Eh! Wrong!

Nursing sucks, like seriously. I don't mean to sound ungrateful or make anyone feel bad, but the media portrays it one way, and it's not. For anybody I've ever met. It's exhausting-both physically and mentally. It can be painful at times. It's a struggle.

It IS natural, but it doesn't come natural. And I hate that the media-on the breastfeeding side-portrays it that way. And then when we don't or can't feed them ourselves, we feel guilty. I struggled with this for awhile. I could not figure out why God would make  "so natural" so hard on us. I finally realized WE are the reason for that-our diets, the chemicals we are exposed to, etc. But before I get off on that tangent....

When my first daughter was born, I just knew I was going to nurse her. But when she was born, the LC tried to help me latch her and it hurt, so they basically just said, "Give her a bottle." For the next 8 years, I blamed that hospital for the reason I did not nurse her. In reality, I never would have anyway. Because at some point, I would have faced another trial and I would not have the support system, resources, or guts to stand up and say, "I'm going to get through this. This too sha'll pass." But at that time I didn't realize that breastfeeding was challenging. I didn't realize it when I got pregnant again either.

I never read a book on breastfeeding. I never watched an informational video. But I had several friends who nurses and they made it look easy as pie! Of course what I didn't realize is that most of them had 4 or 5 kids and nursed them all. I was never a fly on the wall when they were first learning.

When Sweet Sara was born, the midwife told me to take off my bra before she came out so I could nurse her. I was so overwhelmed with excitement because I just knew she would cone out and latch right on and the whole world would be bliss. Instead when she came out, I couldn't stop kissing her. She was absolutely beautiful. She was quite literally an angel from Heaven. Then I chickened out. Everyone was watching...so I asked for a lactation consultant to come in. They sent her in once I was all fixed up and she showed me what to do. I thought, "Bingo! I know how to do this." But the next feeding came around and I was completely lost. She came in, showed me, and I realized it hurt. Like really hurt. Bad. I just wasn't up for this after giving birth. This was the first of many times I almost gave up in the hospital.

I almost gave up after the lactation consultant came in over 10 times in 3 days. I almost gave up after a night of bad latchng and cracked nipples. When I got home I almost gave up after even the nipple shields were painful. I almost gave up when she fed 24/7. And then again when I found out my supply was truly low (because of her tongue tie I didn't know about).

I found hope in these things: Donor milk from one of my best friends so my nipples could heal, Fenugreek, lactation cookies, and power pumping for boosting my supply. Le Leche League who told me about her tongue tie. Most of all, having her tongue clipped!

These days I still struggle though. When growth spurts come. And when she is teething hard core because she stays on the breast consistently for the rush of pain relief it gives her. And when she wants to nurse to sleep but can't stay asleep longer than 30 minutes at a time. It turns into a cycle. Some days I feel like I'm nailing this Mom thing. Other days I feel drained, like all I do is nurse while my 8 year old goes off to do her thing. It's exhausting. It is one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but yet I choose to do it anyway.

Don't get me wrong, nursing my second has been worth all the tears I've shed and pain I've experienced. Knowing that I am capable of making the milk that put the fat rolls on her legs. Watching her doze to sleep after she finishes her "naptime milkies." Looking her in the eye as she looks up at me while eating, while at the same time clawing my chest with her infant talons. Or when she stops nursing just to give me her adorable little baby smiles. Being able to calm her with my body when she is scared or in pain. Nursing on demand is more than nourishment. It is comfort in times of fear and pain. It is a familiar place and human contact whenever it is needed. But it didn't come easy. And I wouldn't have made it through without my amazingly supportive Husband who has been to the store for nipple cremes at all hours of the night. Who has watched me cry and cheered me on. Who has held her while I got just a few minutes of sleep before the next feeding stretch. He is Just Amazing.

And so is she. She knows my body. As she grows, she can push my breast if she wants a faster flow. Her hands know exactly what to do to get exactly what she needs. And my body knows just what to give her, how many ounces to make and if she is sick. It is truly awe some to see all my body and my baby can do by dancing together during meal time, nap time, and beyond.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Welcome To Motherhood of Multiple Children

Where a peaceful life means avoiding the grocery store and making something simple for dinner.

The dishwasher is in the process of being fixed. I have resolved to do my grocery shopping online or pick up what I can't order from Aldi during S's swim class. The crockpot is my best friend. And I'd love to get a robot mop.....Maybe one day.

Things I said I'd never do. But I've had to proritize. With Sam, as an only and an older child, I had too much time on my hands. Now with Sara, I have not enough. And I have to choose.

Do I want to miss these months where they grow way too fast? Or do I want to suck it up and deal with a halfway cleaned house?

So now I have some dog hair behind the couch, the crockpot stays on the counter, and they're are a few unfinished projects at the top of the basement stairs. And the laundry may or may not stay one load behind. But it pretty much did that before. So not too shabby considering I have cloth diapers in the rotation now. Luckily, I have realized...it will all be there waiting on me when I'm ready. When Sara takes naps while I'm not holding her. When she isn't nursing as much. When Sara and Sam are busy playing together. Whe.mBecausen Sam and I are not in the midst of a learning explosion. One day we will be out of this stage and I will miss it. Until then, I'll enjoy them both and forget about the house and shopping in the store and having 3 course meals for just a little while longer.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Gotta keep this short and sweet because life is busy lately, but I have a few things I'm so excited about, but nobody wants to hear me go on about. Poor Hubby has to though.


I start working next Wednesday. By "working" I mean 4 hours a week. lol I will have both the girls and a 7 hour day just seemed way too long to have them and be working. So I am working afternoons, 1-5, which is just so perfect for our schedule. Clean in the morning, then work with Sam, then work. She will get her attention and not be as needy while I am there. I will be the post abortion counselor and outreach coordinator. My job will be counseling clients like usual, but the post abortive and abortion vulnerable will be specifically scheduled for when I am there. I will be doing recivery studies-individual and running the group study, which sounds like a lot, but it isn't because women aren't exactly lining up at the door to tell everyone about their abortion. My job will also be to make connections with churches and other Christian organizations to refer women who have had abortions to us for counseling. And then or course speaking at churches like usual. The best part is, she said I can clock another 4 hours a week at home if I do any work. Specifically, when Jessie is home with the girls, I will probably make calls to churches, meet with pastors and other entities, etc. So I'm nervous, but excited. Too much is changing around here. New baby. New car. New job. I am nervous about being tied down to something, even if it is only 4 hours a week. I am bad about not wanting to dedicate ourselves to stuff, even though I do all the time. I'm not flaky, but I want to able to have the option of flaking without being irresponsible. Know what I mean? Maybe not....Anyway...


He finished yet another semester of school! He has never been this dedicated. I feel so bad for him and I want to help, but we are both running ourselves dry here adjusting to the new normal. He is doing a great job, carrying all As and only has a year or maybe a little less left in his academics. So yay him.


Sara is growing fast! She is two months old now. She is having her tongue clipped so she can eat better. She isn't gaining much weight. :( Anywho, after her "surgery" she should be fine and start eating more and gaining. I am noticing all the small stuff that I never did with Sam because I was a new Mom and because she was in daycare during her good hours. But the other morning, I was sitting with Sara and just watching her. And I noticed that she was starting to notice her feet! She kept pulling them in and watching them. And then she kept trying to coordinate her hands to grab them. She was not successful that day, but it's coming soon. She is growing so fast. I put her in a jumper yesterday and she could stay balanced and play. She rolls over. She is just too darn big and strong! My Husband and I both got excited the other day when she reached for the toy on her carseat on purpose! That's right! She was batting at it on purpose!! We were in cloud 9 the rest of the night.


Samantha had been struggling a big for my attention lately. And as much as I want to be super mom, you can't get there just by baking the best treats and leading all of the activities. So I've been trying to keep my relationship with her going strong. It's tough though. She has so much energy from being locked in the house all day in the Winter since activities have not started back yet. And she is SO hyper. Not to mention all the changes she has been through. I keep reminding myself she is adjusting too. Anyway, we listen to audio books in the new car that has a working radio and CD player. We play lots of games in the afternoons, go out for special treats, and I make it a point to have meaningful conversations. Last night she helped me clean so I could spend time with her today and not worry about anything. We talked about how bad she wanted to be a nurse and she decided she wanted to volunteer at a hospital, so we will see where that goes. I am ready for activities to start back and pretty weather to return. I think the cold weather depresses her a bit because she has always had issues in cold weather. She is very emotional, so even the rain effects her mood.

Which brings me to my next point, I'm so nervous about everything starting back! We will be so busy that I literally had to make a list of everything to do around the house each day, right down to things like, "Lay out the Chicken and make the sauces for crockpot dinners Tuesday and Wednesday." "Make Jessie's breakfasts for the week." I have 7 loads of laundry a week, dinner and dishes every night, weekly cleaning, AHG, Swim Club, PAT, La Leche League, CHEA, Church, now work even though I did volunteer biweekly before. Now Sam wants to volunteer. And that's all before we do any at home learning for either kid. Although I guess all that is learning....With Sara I like for her to have lots of tummy time. She likes it. I like for her to have time in her Bumbo and I like for her to hear us reading. With Sam, I like to help her learn to study her Bible, read Narnia, read Story of the World-which we just started for History, and practice some sort of math through games. I'm learning to do some of this on the go. I think we may get Narnia as an Audiobook and listen for an hour or two a week-on the way to AHG and on the way to swim. Those are both 1 hour round trip. And then while I'm at the Center, she will be doing an hour of math games on the computer. And then of course Summer leaves plenty of time to hang out and read because activities are out.....I'm starting to feel better now....I guess that is life for you. Don't want to waste a minute. With two is just seems like double even though it isn't. It's worth it though, every single minute.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Fog

We woke up this morning and started the new year off right by going to church. Great message. It touched my Husband and confirmed some of my thoughts and feelings on the future. 

But anyway, I've been looking back over the past year, which really began 13 months or so ago. My Husband accepted God around Christmas time. We decided to try to adopt. Then...we got pregnant!? 

Once I got pregnant, all normal life ceased to exist. I got really sick and that was it from there. We entered a fog. Don't get me wrong. We kept going, and we had a fantastic year, but everything was focused on the baby. All my appointments, a lot of what we talked about, our time together as a family (feeling Sara kick). Toward the end, we even sat around the house waiting for her-FOR ALMOST A MONTH! Then came the newborn stage. We spent a lot of time laying around in bed. I was feeding her constantly. Everyone was drained and adjusting. It is interesting how one person took over our whole lives and changed it completely. We just got back to normal life. Well, the new normal. 

We also went through a few other changes this year. Jessie went back to school. He just finished a full semester today. And we even bought a new car, only 2 days ago! Life is changing, and it will keep on changing. 

I already expect one possible change this year. If I decide to accept, I will be working 1 day a week at the Center. Jessie will be entering his major related classes at the end of this year. (He had some credits from where he attended school a few years back.) And, we will be parents of a 9 year old! Which seems too close to preteen to me. Since their hormones started changing around then. AND we will be reading a young toddler. Somebody please pray for me! Sam is starting swim team. I will be meeting some new people through the groups I am joining with Sara, Le Leche League and possibly Kindermusik. Of course, the girls will be too-building new relationships in the community.We plan to start a new History Living book curriculum-basically the same thing we have been doing, but a new book. We will be adding twice as much Bible time in. Minor Changes= Major Outcomes. Oh, and we will be taking our first daily vacation that isn't just a hundred or so miles away....There are so many other firsts, I can't even begin to list them! 

I just can't wait. This year has a lot for us and we have a lot for it. Praying we can do more good than bad for this world this year and that Samantha learns new things along the way. 

Happy New Year