Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Odyssey

Sing ho, for the life of a bear.....

Mama Says Om's theme this week is Odyssey. It instantly made me think of this picture of my children and their friends taking a little hike by my friend's house.

My first thought of it's meaning and looking further at it's actual definition made me think about how it ties into our unschooling journey.

od·ys·sey (ŏd'ĭ-sē) pronunciation
n., pl. -seys.

1. An extended adventurous voyage or trip.
2. An intellectual or spiritual quest: an odyssey of discovery.


A Greek epic poem. Also: A long wandering and eventful journey.

Our unschooling journey has been an odyssey. What the perfect word for it, (I should rename my blog!) Both for my children and myself, our journey has indeed been adventurous and spiritual and continues to be full of wonderful, new discoveries. Not only discoveries about things we learn about out in the real world, but discoveries about ourselves. Discoveries about just how much we are capable of. Especially without schools to squelch the desire to learn. Without losing the love of learning. Being able to follow our interests at anytime. I have learned as much as they and continue to everyday. It has been a spiritual quest for me in that I am so much more open minded about what spiritualness means to me. I have read books that would never have had my interests in the past. I look at the world differently. More compassionately. For us, I hope this journey never ends.

This Odyssey we call our lives!

More stories about our unschooling journey here, my journey here, and by clicking on the 'unschooling' label below.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Slippin and a Slidin!

The girls were having fun with the Diego slip n slide that Olivia got for her birthday. Olivia wasn't sure what to do with it at first, but Violet showed her, then they had a blast running back & forth, and pulling each other along.
The girls slipin around
Slippin n a slidin!
Olivia on slip n slide
Violet slipn

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Originally uploaded by mandaroo63
It's been a nice, slow week. Olivia had a fever for about a day on Thursday, so we stayed home from ceramics. Which was kind of a bummer for them. They were supposed to paint and fire them. But hopefully, we can do it later, on another day (it was the last day of their class). Friday we made it to the library and picked up a few books and movies. Olivia had me read Green Eggs & Ham to her, even though we have it at home and have read it a hundred times! She just loves that story. She knows a lot of the words to it now. So I think she may be picking up on some reading. Violet picked up some Nancy Drew and a new series we found called Akiko, training master. We had watched the old (50s I think) black and white movie about Nancy Drew, so she's really interested in her now and wants to read a few books before we go see the new movie. She also picked up some comic books.
Yesterday, we invited our new friends from up the block over for swimming and bbq. They're really nice folks who have 2 boys that our girls get along with pretty well. The older one shares Pokemon interests with Violet and the younger is just all boy, so gets along perfectly with Olivia (with the occasional typical 3/4 yr old power struggles!). It's rare to find kids that get along with your kids and to also enjoy the parents company, so it was really nice to have them finally over, after a few times of running into them on the street and just the small polite hellos.
Have mostly been taking garden pictures and just other outdoor photos lately, since we've been home most of the week. So, I've posted them on my other blog here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

8 things about me (meme)

Crystal at Daikini Crossroads tagged me for an "8 things about me" meme. I've had to think about it and still really don't know what I'm going to say, as I'm writing this. I have a really hard time writing about the "real stuff" here for the world to see. Anyway, here goes:

1. I was born in Bishop Stortford, England in 1963. My dad was in the US Air Force as an aircraft maintenance mechanic and my mom was an English country girl.

2. I came to America with an English accent, but was very shy and self-conscious about it. I felt like kids would tease me (don't rememeber if that was true, though). So, I remember consciously trying to get rid of it. Funny, though, when I reached my teens and kids found out I was from England, they thought it was cool, and wanted to hear my accent, so I would put it on for them.

3. Looking back, high school was really bad for me. I was a follower. I did pretty well grade-wise, but I really don't feel that I received a very good education which prepared me for the future or assisted me in anyway in trying to figure out what I wanted in life. I lost my love for art in high school. I loved to disappear by reading books.

4. I went into college as a psychology major. I think mainly because I was "screwed up" and wanted to "fix" myself. I couldn't pass the physiological psychology (studying sheeps' brains), so I dropped out of the program and didn't return for several years. I returned later after I had been working at a savings & loan company and decided to get a business degree.

5. I worked a couple of cubie jobs (cubicle) for at least 15 years doing lots of data entry (thanks for the carpal syndrome!). They were dull, boring, go nowhere jobs for me.

6. I met my husband through some mutual FOBW friends (if you don't know what that means, don't ask (or you can email me if you know me well), if you do, then you know something else about me!)

7. I finally had a job that I enjoyed working from home for an big international company. I was able to be home with Violet (mom came and helped out) and enjoy flexible hours. I quit work indefinately when Olivia was born to stay home with them both full time! Yay!!!

8. I decided to homeschool after asking lots of questions from my SIL, Deby, and coincidently meeting many other homeschoolers who impressed me with their ideas and experiences. I decided to unschool after reading much about it and agreeing with the ideas and philosophies that I learned about. After reflecting on my own school history, I could really see how school can damage children (even "school at home") and I don't want that for my children.

This turned more into a chronology of my life, but hey, I never knew what would come out and I better hit "send" before I chicken out! It actually came out very "real!" Thanks for being interested, and I'd love to hear your 8 things. Just comment and let me know where to find them. Thanks!

I'm tagging my brother Martin, friend Amanda, and niece Cynthia. I'll leave the rest of you alone, because I know you get lots of meme requests (Pendulum, Waya, Oh the Joys to name a few......)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The men in my life.......

The girls and their daddy
We enjoyed a fabulous father's day on Sunday. We enjoyed some rib eyes, and hamburgers and corn, potato salad (made by mom), zucchini, rosemary bread. It was quite a warm day, so Dan & the girls enjoyed swimming in the pool. We relaxed and enjoyed our afternoon with mom and dad here.
Olivia and daddy
The girls made their dad some cards for Father's day and gave him a gift of some board shorts and two pairs of walking shorts. They get so excited when they make him cards and it makes him so happy.
Grandpa & Violet
We also celebrated my dad's birthday with a lemon cooler cake and mom brought some pink cupcakes. Pure decadence! But, oh, it was all so good!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just say "YES!!!!!"

Sunscreen spray art
Unschooling Voices question for July is: First, what advice would you have given to yourself early in your unschooling journey?

After swimming yesterday afternoon, Violet asked me if she could "paint" with the sunscreen spray. A couple of years ago I probably would have said "No, that would be wasteful", and would probably have a dozen other reasons why she "shouldn't" use the sunscreen spray to play with and create with. I think the biggest change for me, and the answer to the above question, would be to say "yes" more often and not automatically say "no" to requests that my children have. Funny thing is though, that those thoughts still enter my head. Even while I was saying "yes, sure, why not", in the back of my mind I heard those voices say "no, you shouldn't". Reading the unschooling discussion boards has really helped me change my actions, and my thought processes are gradually catching up. When I see my children enjoying doing things with no limitations it really brings joy to me and shows me that what we are doing is right for us.

Moments earlier, while in the house, Violet said to me, she would like to be an artist when she grows up. I told her that she is already an artist, but that maybe if she would like to make a living being an artist when she grows up, we could learn more about what artist do to make a living at it. I made a few suggestions. I suggested maybe we could interview some artists, and she came up with a few ideas of her own about who we could talk to. We thought about coming up with a list of questions for the artists and going to some arts and crafts shows to ask them. Also, we could go to a college and talk to an art instructor. I told her about the PBS show Crafts across America that I had recently saved on the tv, that she could watch. She's only 8, but I can really see her following this path, as she has always loved art, and it would be wonderful if she could keep that passion. I'd really love to nurture and help her explore it as much as she wants to. I love that she can see a can of sunscreen spray and want to use it as an art medium. I told her that there are artists who really do use different mediums other than paint and pencils to create with and that we could go out and learn more about them. So, I think this will lead to some really neat further discussions and field trips to exhibits and museums that portray this. Olivia had been playing on the computer so Violet went in and told her what we were doing and said hey come join in the fun!
Olivia joins the funArtist and her creation
I often hear parents say or even shout "NO!" you can't do that, or you shouldn't do that. I think kids start to tune it out after awhile and you get kids who are constantly disruptive or misbehaving because they don't even hear it anymore. Unless a child is hurting another child, or hurting property that doesn't belong to them I feel that we need to relax and let them explore and learn through doing things that inspire them. Saying "no" squelches creativity, it stamps out learning, it creates negativity. Another reason to avoid using no so frequently is, for example; several times in the recent past, my kids have been offered some candy or some other treat, and politely said "no thank you". The reason my kids say "no", is because I have not been limiting these things. Other parents say, "Oh, but not my kids, I can't do that". They haven't tried. If it's been forbidden for a long time, yes, they may go a little overboard initially. But, Violet knows, from past experience, that sometimes it will give her a tummy ache. Or maybe she's full right now, and knows she really doesn't want it right now, but that she won't be denied it later, if she wants it. I let Olivia have fruit snacks first thing in the morning, if she wants. She will have a healthy cooked breakfast in another hour, when she's hungry. Why do we "have to" eat breakfast first, snack later? Or any food at any particular hour? Sometimes they will ask for something with sugar in the evening, and I just suggest to them, well, that might keep you up all night, and ask is that what you want. Frequently, no, that isn't what they want. Or if they do want it, I just stay up later with them.

Windows can be cleaned, new bottles of sunscreen can be bought, moments of joy can be remembered forever.

The second part of Unschooling Voices theme was; Second, ask your kids to take pictures of their favorite ________ (favorite whatever; person, place, thing, etc).
So here's a few pictures that Violet has taken recently of some her favorite things. She'll be putting some on her blog later.
OliviaCabbage patch dollsDomino

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pray for Mercy!!!! (Puss N Boots)

Puss N Boots
I'm still mourning the loss of Abby, and think of her every morning. She used to come snuggle with me in the mornings. I take a few moments in the morning to reflect and feel sadness, but it is getting better.

We saw Shrek 3 this weekend which I thought was really good. Not as good as first two, I think I like the 2nd one the best, since it introduced Puss N Boots (Antonio Banderas does such a great job with it!) but I thought the Prince Arthur (Justin Timberlake) was a pretty good character. But, Olivia still likes to be Prince Charming when we play act out the movie. And, we all go around doing the sad, big eyes Puss N Boots look to each other whenever we are "begging" for something from each other! I picked up two Shrek glasses from McDs, the ones with the cat and donkey on them, but they are all out of everything else. Guess those will be going for more $$$ up on eBay soon, if they're not already.

Dan finished up the front by putting bark around the fruit trees, and river rock up in the front. He also put some up by the front of the house where there were garden areas that used to have roses. He doesn't want plants up by the wood siding, because he's afraid we will get mold problems (we had some mold issues in the bathroom when we first moved in). He's also fixed all of our sprinkler systems, so our back yard can start looking green again soon. Wonder what the next project will be, it never ends!
Monday, we went to Girl Scouts. The Brownies made some papermache with balloons and colored tissue paper and played hopscotch. We re-registered for next year. I'm not happy about the drive (about an hour) but it's only twice a month and Violet has really bonded with some of the girls and it's a fun troop. On the way home we stopped at Kit Carson Park to pick up some more supplies from the GS store, and afterwards walked over the the Queen Calafia Magical Circle Garden. I LOVE this place! It's so Magical and Inspiring! We went there last year and really enjoyed it, so I thought the girls might like to see it again. They've added a mosaic egg fountain under the main statue. And, sadly there has been some vandalism. There are a few broken pieces here and there What is wrong with people???!!! Such a beautiful piece of art to have in this city and a few stupid people have to ruin it! Well, the girls enjoyed running around and playing and Violet & I would discover new pieces that we hadn't noticed before and we'd point out the different types of stones used and the shapes and meanings of them. We love the constellations in the center piece, and it's very powerful as a sacred feminine piece. It's really inspiring, what an amazing vision Niki de St Phalle had. It is a shame she has left this world, but she has left such inspiration behind.
Queen Calafia Magical Garden
Something that I've really changed about myself since we've started unschooling, is that I stop and pause more. I no longer feel that rush that we have to be somewhere. Even when there is an appointment I try to handle it differently with the kids so that there is no pressure or anxiety to get there. I try to make it sound fun and provide fun interesting things in the car to keep them occupied. Sounds so simple, but in the past I've always rushed them and not prepared enough (I have to admit, I do still occasionally slip). Scott Noelle's daily groove has been really helpful. One thing I do is instead of just rushing home after we've been somewhere, is that if we see something interesting I'll ask the kids if they want to stop and look and explore. We took a different route home and we saw an ostrich farm. Violet could see from the window but Olivia could not. So, I pulled over and got Olivia out of the car so that she could see better. As we were standing there, these magnificent birds (they must be about 7 ft tall) came striding over by the fence (there were two fences so we couldn't get close) and were so curious about us. There movements were really interesting the way that they bobbed their heads up and down and sat down on the ground and eyed us with those intense, intelligent looking eyes. It is such a shame that there is an "Ostrich Jerky" sign down further along the road that so clearly states the fate of these magnificent creatures. We said "goodbye" and continued along the road. The kids were hungry and I promised to stop (although we were only about 20 minutes from home) so I stopped at this little mom and pop shop that sells rocks along with their usual market wares. I told the girls that we had stopped there a long time ago when we went camping once and we had found a dead snake out front. Violet had brought it home and kept it (until it started stinking really bad!!!). She remembered and was excited to stop there. We got some ice creams and ate them out front. The shop owners were relaxing out front in lawn chairs and the owner would get up now and then when a shop customer would stop. They were mostly grove workers from the area. They had a beautiful little girl probably about 5 that the girls started chatting with. She showed them the stones and pointed out the different types. Violet recognized a few of them, from her own collection of rocks. There was also these stones with dog's body silhouettes painted on them. Violet had fun guessing them, and knew a lot of them from playing her Nintendo Dogs game. The people were really nice and we thanked them before heading home. A huge part of unschooling for me has been just changing my mindset about things. Moments such as these are moments that we are all happy, relaxed and learning through doing and being out there in the world, interacting, questioning, observing our surroundings and the people and things that we see out there. It continues to be an amazing journey everyday.
Queen Calafia Magical Garden
One other thing I wanted to note about. I had jury duty yesterday. I've enjoyed serving in the past and am very willing to do so but I so much more enjoy just being with my kids and being that I am their caretaker and we are single income, and an hour from my mom, I was excused for being a caretaker. It would have been hard on my mom, and we have many activities lined up that I don't want the kids to miss. Violet had questions about jury duty which lead to discussions about government and bills. So I explained the process and the importance of it. Some of the discussion that was brought up, I was not sure about, I had forgotten what I had learned in school. So, I told her about a movie I knew about and that we would pick up some books about it and read them together. She was really interested, so we'll be getting those soon. I'll see what the library has, and I'm sure I have some in my resources as well.
Violet had 4-H last night. She's been working on her Record book, writing about what she's done with 4-H this year, drew some pictures, and wrote about what she enjoyed. Today, we're off to ceramics with some of our unschooling friends, which both of the girls enjoy. It's funny, Violet doesn't want to do the "project" the teacher lines up, but she's learning that sometimes the "process and skills" that you learn are very important in creating the pieces (her Pokemon figure blew up in the kiln due to an air bubble).
Have a great rest of week all!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Unschooling Voices - June

Unschooling Voices, is an unschooling blog gathering spot for monthly submissions for a topic regarding unschooling. In this month's edition #9 Joanne requested that we talk about how unschooling has changed us, and/or submit two pictures that portray unschooling. I linked an entry where there were a couple of pictures of Violet making some jewelry and hanging out with her friend. But, if you've checked out my Flickr (link on the right) there are sooo many pictures of what our unschooling looks like. Taking pictures is just my way of reflecting on things that we do and will be a nice online scrapbook for my daughters to look back on someday, if they are interested. Next month's questions are first, what advice would you have given to yourself early in your unschooling journey? Second, ask your kids to take pictures of their favorite ________ (favorite whatever; person, place, thing, etc). If you'd like to participate, go to Unschooling Voices, and let me know, I'd love to see what you're doing. They also have a Flickr group for Unschooling Voices photos.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My dear Abby

More of my pretty Abby
I'm so sad today......
I wrote this to my mom this morning and am just copying and pasting, because I can't talk about it anymore, but want to post to tribute to my dear Abby, I am going to miss her so much.....

Early yesterday morning, (4-5 am), I was asleep in Violet's bed, as she had fallen asleep in mine, and I was awoken by some noises out front. I got up and went to the front door, thinking maybe it was a skunk or something, and I opened the door and saw two coyotes by the street. When it saw me it went running down the street with an animal in it's mouth (it was dark and I couldn't see exactly what). My first thought was Domino, and I was really worried that it was him, because I knew he was probably outside. I woke Dan and told him and he got up and drove down the street. I could hear the coyotes howling down at the end. He didn't see them but came back and I instantly started looking and calling for Domino. He didn't come right away, then just as Dan got in his truck to leave for work he came running up to the door. I was so relieved and thought maybe it was a rabbit that they had gotten. I was really relieved because I thought Violet would have been so upset and it would have been so hard to talk to her about. Then, I thought about Abby but figured she was asleep in the house somewhere (she never goes out without us). Finally, about 9 am I still hadn't seen her and started to worry. I looked everywhere for her, and still could not find her. Renee brought her kids by about 10, she had a drs appt, so I figured if they were there Abby wouldn't come out, but I was still worried. Finally, they left and I still hadn't seen Abby. I was starting to think the worst. Later, the kids were out front playing, and I was up by the fruit trees. Dan was weed wacking the yard. I looked down and saw tufts of hair. I picked them up and could tell that they were Abbys. I was so sad. I went in and cried about it (crying now as I write). I feel so bad that I didn't look for her. I didn't even realize she was outside. Poor Abby. I'm mad at myself as well. I was up really late watching a movie after the kids went to bed, and didn't even think to look outside for her, I just assumed she was inside. Anyways, I can't see getting myself another cat for awhile. And, we will definately be making sure Domino is in every night. I sooo hate this, it is so hard.