Saturday, January 30, 2010

What makes a Magical Childhood?

Playing in the leaves at Wildcat Mountain State Park last fall

Camping with unschooler friends on our month-long tour of Minnesota State Parks in June, 2008

With Bubbie on the North Shore in 2007

Ezri at Minnehaha Falls when he was only 2!

A couple of years ago I was on an unschooler chatlist where someone proposed the question, "Do you think your childhood was magical, and if so, what was magical about it?"

It was amazing - every person who responded said that what was magical was time spent in nature and/or time spent on vacations.

I love that!

On vacation, of course, time slows down - everyone can be "present" and you are *supposed* be hanging out together, being idle or having new experiences.

And in nature. . . well, it's just a universal experience that we need because of being human beings, having spent 99.9% of our history living in tribal situations, where being outdoors was the way of life.

When I think of the most magical experiences of *my* childhood, what immediately comes to mind are things like these:

-playing on the beach in the Gulf of Mexico
-riding horseback through Wyoming
-watching a thunderstorm roll in over Lake Minnetonka
-going over a waterfall on my butt at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
-climbing the tree in my front yard
-playing for hours by the lake
-snorkeling in Hawaii
-jumping over waves on the shore of Lake Superior
-playing on my dome climber jungle gym
-playing in mud puddles on our gravel driveway
-sitting by a campfire
-finding a "treasure buried by pirates" in the sand dunes
-listening to John Denver on the 8-track in my dad's boat
-water tubing with friends
-sledding, building snowmen and forts, and having snowball fights

Aah! There is one exception - I think that my Christmases seemed magical when I was a child, and those were neither outdoors nor vacations. But in a way they were - the fire in the fireplace and everyone gathered and slowed down, relaxed and having a great time - just like on vacation.

Isn't it interesting? I'd love to hear other people comment on what they think was magical about *their* childhoods.

I think that a lot of the reason that I'm so obsessed with going on vacation to "nature" places, getting my kids outdoors, and wanting rural property is all because of these kinds of memories.

But if other people have other kinds of magical childhood experiences, I'd like to hear those, too!

(Interestingly, I have just put this question to my 6.5 year-old and he says that his most magical memories are of Papa and me using magical means (magic leaf, magic wand) to make marshmallows appear in his hot chocolate. Hmmm!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Request! And "schedules"

I finally have a request! It's been months. A request to show you the schedule I mentioned in the day before yesterday's post.

I like to think of it as someone else's schedule - to me it's just a "back up plan" because I am horrified at the thought of having a scheduled life.

That being said, we followed it pretty well yesterday, with excellent results!

Here is what I have written down on a scrap of paper:

7-8 a.m. - get dressed, make beds, empty dishwasher, put away breakfast dishes, coffee/tea, partially clean bathroom

8:00 - breakfast

8:30 - brush hair/teeth, clean kitchen, put in laundry

9:00 - outside every day (field trip, outing, play in yard, etc.)

11:30 - home, cook lunch/play

12-12:30 - dishes, dry laundry

1-4 - next outside time ("while I'm cleaning, you go outside.") And other homeschooler stuff.

5:00 - dinner

6-?? - chaos.


Now that I look at this, I realize I hardly followed it at all - but what a comfort it is to have around, like an old, senile grandma sitting around in a rocking chair. Or something.

The only reason I was willing to consider a schedule of any kind is because I finally met someone who seems enough like me that I can look at her and say, "if *she* can do this, I can do this, too, and NOT turn into a robot." Yes, it's true - the rest of you all who have schedules remind me of robots.

Anyway, really I just made sure to get my kids outside yesterday as early as possible, and I said to the one who likes to wear his p.j.s all day long, "You've gotta get your clothes on before breakfast today!" Then I said, "You've gotta comb your hair before you go to the vet!" (That was their errand after playing around outside.)

I don't follow any of the other things, either, now that I think about it.

I did put some laundry in yesterday, though, and I felt like Somebody Organized. And I also even cleaned the bathroom sink before bed. Now that's really something.

This is all a great example of how having a schedule can be useful even if you don't use it. I just knew it was there, and so I had support. I also told my husband about it and he was mildly intrigued. I said before I left to go write at the coffee shop, "If you can't figure out what to do, just look at the schedule, and see if it looks good."

Next on my list of Life Goals is to make a pictoral chart with the kids, with all these things on it (modified slightly for our family. For example, we'll have to put "Call Bubbie" after breakfast time, and also add some time for Ottar to be squished daily under a couch cushion - something he requires to keep him from pushing the Learning Tower down the basement steps again.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Only a month late on these Florida Pix

In December we drove down to Florida because we had free lodgings in the panhandle, on St. George Island. It was amazing! Has to be one of the best places ever to take your kids, if you're me!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cabin Fever No More - I Hope

Recently I copied down my new friend Rachel's entire daily schedule for myself - she's an unschooler, too, and has kids the same age. She claims the schedule is the answer to all our problems. Basically I just glance at the schedule and think, "Maybe I should do THAT now." And then I try half-heartedly and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't.

But today I decided that I'm going to stick with it because Bad Things happen when I don't haul the kids outside in the morning.

Let it be known that my children and I will heretofore go out and do something every morning, come hell or high water!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In case anyone's wondering

What happened to me? I went out of town again. And now that I'm back, Dear Husband is taking the computer away from me for four days. So I can't record any of our goings-on. Which is actually fine, because I'm mostly just hyper-focused on trying to get rid of fleas. Seriously.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ezra Won a Bike!

Here are photos of Ezra on the bike he won in December at the holiday raffle! (As usual, I'm over a month behind on uploading photos to the computer b/c I have no idea how to do it.)

It was a very exciting event, this bike-winning, because he biked over to the raffle on his little purple bike he's had since he was 3. As we walked along behind, his papa and I were discussing how it really is getting ridiculously small for him. And then he won this crazy BMX bike. It's a little too big, and the purple bike, which he immediately bequeathed to his little brother, is also to big for him, but hopefully they'll grow into them by spring.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Combining Things

Ottar loves to combine things. Every day he asks me things like "What would happen if I mixed orange juice with goat milk?" And very often he experiments and discovers things that he decides are delicious, but which would make me retch.

He also likes to combine non-food items, such as roller skates and bicycling, as seen above (pix finally uploaded from early last month.)

Most parents would probably try to stop this amazing experience from ever occurring, but let me tell you, Ottar and Papa actually had a great ride!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Great Reason to Unschool

One thing I have heard many people say is that they don't want to keep their kids out of school because they think that they don't have enough skills, etc. that they can pass on to their kids.

Never mind that they probably don't have any because they spent so much time in school themselves.

Days like today, when my husband has taken the 3-yo to the "big city" for a shopping trip are days when I get to have the honor and priviledge of learning how to do things I have absolutely no idea how to do (and no interest in doing, really.) Because Ezra asked me to help him make a "holdster" for his cap gun. So we've been cutting burlap and I've been helping him sew it together with pink embroidery thread (the only kind I could find in my maddeningly overstuffed/disorganized art cabinet).

As I said to him while trying to sew a button on it, "I really have no idea how to do this, so we're learning together."

You know what I would say if he were in school? I would probably say, "Oh, I'm sure you'll learn that next year." Or something. I know I really would say that, because I *could*. Of course for him to learn sewing, we'd have to send him to Waldorf school (one of our previous top choices anyway.) But this is so much cheaper, and more fulfilling.

Soon, I hope, we will have learned to do everything together that I have wished I had known how to do my whole life. We sure have a ways to go, though. One of these days I'll make a list of all my incompetencies, for all to see.

Pictures soon!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

And a cold day. So I found this great link:

"Things to do without leaving the house" from The Idler website, which is soon to become my favorite place to hang out (while still at home.)