A day in the life: unschooling

It’s been a while, but we’re still doing things, including part-time homeschooling/unschooling.





May 23, 2013

drinking banana-berry-peanut butter smoothie

Ben said he saw a dragon in the bottom of this one.

M told me to smile for a photo.

And then she photographed Ben and me playing with Ash.

Be still, my heart.

Hancock Easter Egg Hunt

At the Hancock Recreation Center’s annual Easter Egg Hunt:

Spring in Austin

early evening, near Walnut Creek


Walnut Creek is dry, but this little pool is fed by the Edwards Aquifer.

Waxing gibbous moon rising


Crowe’s Nest Farm

Long time no post; this spring has seemed especially full so far here in Sunrise Rubyland. I’m taking anatomy this semester, which is grueling and fascinating by turns. I’m studying nearly every night after the kids go to bed and for large chunks of time on the weekends, too, to master the assigned material. In February N and I helped cater our preschool cooperative community’s silent auction. It represented that community’s main fundraiser of the year, and our main support role for the co-op this year. Just after Silent Auction, N and I both became sick with what seemed like the flu. It took a couple of weeks for N to make a full recovery, and I’m apparently still working on it. I’m taking a course of antibiotics for the first time in years, and I’m slowly feeling better, if still very tired.

It was good to feel well enough today to help chaperone Ben’s kindergarten class field trip to Crowe’s Nest Farm in Manor. We enjoyed a short hayride and saw a cow milking demonstration, which wasn’t totally comfortable for me to watch, but we do eat dairy, and it’s important to know where your food comes from. There’s a vegetable garden and an herb garden at Crowe’s Nest, but mostly the kids ran past those to ogle all the interesting creatures housed on Crowe’s Nest grounds. We saw the standard farm menagerie: pigs, goats, chickens, donkeys; and also hawks, a porcupine, ringtails, owls, tortoises, ostriches, a bobcat and bison. In addition to fostering public appreciation of agricultural resources, CN takes as its mission fostering respect and appreciation of wildlife, and providing a home for inappropriately adopted and then abandoned wild pets.

There are storybook-themed children’s gardens to explore,

But my favorite part of CN was Faeriewood, inspired by the book Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane.

It’s fascinating to share time at school with Ben these days, and I treasure the opportunity when it comes. I see him working out social status and friendships in a new school community. I also see him growing as a very calm, focused, cooperative learner. He sees familiar subjects in new ways and makes (mostly good) decisions that are not always the expected ones. I suggested to him several times today that he sit on the outside of the hayride trailer, so that he’d have the best view, but he chose a seat on the center bales instead, and used his position to see the sights on both sides. Instead of crowding in with his classmates to see the animals along the hayride as the tour guide described them, Ben waited, listening carefully to the guide’s words, and then watched them intently with a clear, uncrowded line of sight as our trailer moved away. At the end of our visit to CN, he told me that the hayride was his favorite part of the tour.

I feel so incredibly proud of and delighted by the person Ben is becoming. And my mothering of this first child is changing with the times. Ben can sort most things out with his sister and his peers on his own. He can get himself dressed, make his own breakfast cereal, create his own games. He writes in a journal at school. He recently read the Foot Book to us, cover to cover, twice in one night.

In spite of these developing skills and independence, I still feel deeply connected to Ben. He still asks to snuggle at night before falling asleep. He treasures our one-on-one time together, and can usually remember exactly what we did together on the days we last had it. We run, play, laugh, cook, garden, and play board games together. Didn’t I think it would be wonderful for us to live next door to each other when he’s grown up? he asked me last week. When I smell the top of his golden head, he still smells unmistakably like a child of my body. Many of these will change in coming years, I imagine. I’m reminded of the lovely lines by Khalil Gabrin:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Yes, it is still, stable work, this new kind of parenting. He still needs us to cook healthy meals, to help him get to bed and to school on time, to clean clothes and house, to schedule time with friends, and to foster interests, but the largest, most important part of parenting 5.5-yr-old Ben is listening. My best gift is my constant, calm, supportive presence. And it’s enough for joy and growth on both ends.


Merry Christmas

This Christmas Eve, we made gingerbread cookies:

Grandma Sharon showed Ben how to make a paper chain to decorate the Christmas tree:

We opened gifts under the tree after dinner at Peony on Christmas Eve:

On Christmas morning we all enjoyed goodies from Santa, then cooked and ate Christmas lunch on my great-grandmother’s china:

We ate cheese soufflé, spinach salad, roasted root veggie soup, quinoa pilaf with kale, carrots and almonds, cold lentil and vegetable salad, blackberry crisp and Grandma Sharon’s pecan pie.

After lunch we said goodbye to Grandma Sharon and Grandpa John, who hoped to drive back to Dallas before it snowed:

Then we played with Santa toys again (BeyBlades, Groovy Girls, new pieces to our marble run, Nathan’s new stand mixer), and the kids and I snuggled on the couch and watched The Muppet Christmas Carol together. Simple, special, pretty perfect. Hope your own way of keeping the holiday was wonderful, too. Christmas love to you and yours from Sunrise Ruby.

Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Where’s Maddie Roo?

at the farmer’s market

teeny pumpkin patch, where we picked out a pumpkin to carve

sampling sweet tea

One of our favorite recent discoveries in the neighborhood. Every Sunday, less than 2 miles from our house. :)

Maddie’s first knock knock joke

M: Knock knock.

Me: Who’s there?

M: Mouse on house.

Me: Mouse-on-house who?

M: Mouse cheese!

She told this joke exactly the same way 3 times at dinner tonight; girl’s clearly been working on her material! She gets the form for the joke, and gets that knock knock jokes usually contain a play numberswiki.com

on word sounds, like rhyming or a pun. Maddie will be 4 in November. Saying goodbye to her baby days are bittersweet, but with speech play and so many other cool human things coming online, there’s still plenty of childhood and lots of laughter to look forward to.