Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A great first week

We did alot of driving in the 6 days it took us to get to PA. It was mostly delightful. K and Q are great travelers, and had no camplaints abvout the amount of time spent in the car, in fact they seemed to enjoy every mile. We saw plenty of interesting landscapes, and managed a few stops on the way. We loved the KOA cabins that we stayed in, and we all had fun staying with my mom's friend from elementary school in Kansas City. She lives in a 1915 farm house and still hauls her own water. We ate from her garden, and Keegan was facinated with her accumulation of stuff from many years past. Her mother came for a visit, who is now 85, and was my mother's girl scout leader. We really had a great time on the way!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 2

That's Quinn at the top of the rock wall-she felt very accomplished! Another day full of beautiful scenery and fun adventures. We stopped at a farm stand and bought organic peaches, yum! We drove through some of CO today ooing and awing the whole way. The river, mountains, wildlife and small towns were breathtaking. We were headed for Glenwood Springs, CO. We arrived and enjoyed our day at Glenwood Caverns. We rode some fun rides, and toured a cave.
While we were in the cave, I heard a family talking behind me. The parents were telling their daughter who was very interested in the cave that someday she might be able to study geology. You could learn geology when you get to college, her mother told her. Well, I think it is possible that you could learn geology in high school, her dad added optimistically. Mom and Dad argued the point for a few minutes about whether she would be able to learn this subject in highschool or college. Their conversation caught my attention. I am glad we will never have to wait for a system to schedule us to learn about things that interest us. I'm glad we have chosen a path that will allow our children to persue their interests when they are interests.

Monday, August 6, 2007

And we're off!

We drove in 4 states today-Nevada, Arizona, Utah and into Colorado. Utah was so beautiful, we all enjoyed the land formations and animals we saw along the way. We stopped in Green River for watermelons, and stopped for a breif visit to a dinosaur museum(we forgot about the time change!), and finally made it to the KOA after 11 hours on the road. We are having a great time.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Keegan Leads The Way

On our way home from North Carolina, we were reflecting on our vacation at the beach. Keegan let us know that the only thing he disliked was the plane ride. He hoped we would not be doing that again soon. Well, we did have plans to fly to PA in about one month's time. I told him, and he right away let us know how unpleasant that would be, and wondered why we couldn't just drive. I told him why we hadn't planned to drive-it would take us a week, cost so much money, so much energy, ect. He was not at all put off by the obstacles, and seemed to think it would be an adventure.
For quite awhile now, I have been trying to figure out how we could plan an extended road trip, but it never actualized-too many obstacles that I couldn't rationalize pushing through. But Keegan seemed determined, and the more I listened to him, the more possible it seemed. One thing led to another, and soon after we returned from NC, we had a 5 week trip planned around the US and Canada. My mother offered to join us, we made some reservations, and the trip is going to happen.
My mother flew in yesterday, we leave tomorrow. We are all so excited for this adventure. Jim is happy that my mother is going with us, and he has a very intense month of work planned. Everything fell into place.
I love the freedom of unschooling. We are able to take an idea, or just really a comment like Keegan's-I really don't want to fly-and turn it into an amazing journey. I have no idea what we are going to experience and learn on this trip, but I am open to whatever it is. We have alot of plans, and we don't have alot of plans, we have the comfort of knowing we have a place to sleep most nights(not all!), but we have also allowed some flexibility and time to explore when we are inspired.
My next blog will be from the road. I can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Great Day WIth Our Friends

We had a great day with our wonderful LVLL friends, oh, yes, and we saw the Bodies and Titanic exhibits.


Before we went to church on Sunday, the kids did what they wanted to do. Quinn baked apple-pecan muffins to take to the potluck, and Keegan kept busy swinging from the rope while waiting to try the finished baked goods.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Keegan's words of wisdom

Last night, Keegan asked us if all people eventually become grandparents. Before I could even answer, he realized that a person must have children who has children for that to happen. I asked if he thought Jim and I would be grandparents. He assured me we would be many times over. He and his wife were going to have many children, many more than 2. I then asked him if he was planning to homeschool those children. He replied that he didn't know. I asked him why. He told me, homeschool, unschool, public or private school, he would wait until his children were here to find out what they wanted to do. He only wants to be unschooled right now, but he seems to have the wisdom to know he is unique, as is everyone, and he would have to meet a person and inquire with them before he would begin to make choices for them.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Our Day in Nature

Quinn's Pokemon Club

As the day of "being" in Nature came to an end, Quinn had an idea for a Pokemon Club that should get started right away. I was feeling very fulfilled by the day, and also tired, thinking about the sparring class I needed to get to in 1 1/2 hours. She was focused on arranging the first meeting tomorrow at our house as we walked with all of our stuff to the car. I was thinking-AHHHH-I can't think about this right now! But I quietly told her I needed to think about what we were doing tomorrow, and talk about this on the way home. In the parking lot, she collected all of her friend's phone numbers. On the way home we decided Friday would be better, noon would be the time(in consideration for the nocturnal member of our family), but Thursday would do if some couldn't come on Friday. As soon as we got home, she started making her calls. One boy's phone wasn't working, so I helped her e-mail him. She arranged the first meeting for Thursday at noon, and told me she thought they were all coming. She planned how she would decorate, and where they would meet. She was so relaxed about the planning.
The next morning, she woke early for her big day. She called one mom to confirm that they were still coming, got dressed, did her hair, tidied her room, re-organized her Pokemon cards, offered to help me clean up and feed the animals, and got busy on her signs and decorations. And at 6 years old, she was soooo relaxed about it.
I thought about the times I have planned group meetings at our house, about how paniked I am to make everything perfect, clean the house, get the food, have enough to do, make plan B's incase something doesn't work out-which is probably why we don't have many groups meet at our house.
I almost got into my pre-visitor panik, then stopped myself, and let her have this her relaxed way.
What a great day. They came at noon, and the last club member left at 6pm, what a wonderful time. The moms talked, and the kids had their club. It was perfect. There were some diversions from Pokemon, like swimming in the pool, looking at Quinn's garden, the fish tank, legos, DS's, even a hurt feeling or two along the way(which resolved itself), but the children were open to the loose structure of their club, and they all seemed to go with each other's flow. It was a great day.

"Being" in Nature

On Wednesday, I packed the food, water and camera, and the kids packed their Pokemon binders, stuffed pokemon and DS's. Then we headed out to "be" in Nature. Not exactly the picture I had in mind, but as I am trying to go with their flow, I skipped the lecture on how you could not truly appreciate nature when you bring along such unnatural distractions as Pokemon and the DS. I am so glad I skipped it! We enjoyed over 5 wonderful hours being in Nature.
I talked to my friends in the most beautiful surroundings, ocassionally noticing a woodpecker, squirrel or an interesting plant. I took a few walks and enjoyed the quiet. It was a perfect day for me.
The kids traded Pokemon cards with their friends, ocassionally noticing animals, plants, or interesting places in this beautiful setting. They took a few walks, climbed a mountain, emptied a fire-pit, enjoyed nature. It was a perfect day for them.
I'm glad I let go of my ideas of how the day should happen, and just let it be. It was perfect.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Letting Go

Yesterday, I let go of the last thing I was holding Keegan to, piano lessons. It was the last thing we routinely struggle about. He liked his lessons because he loves his teacher. He did not want to practice, and I would go back and forth between letting him manage his practice, which meant no practice, and my managing his practice, which meant..... so many things.
At our lesson(I am taking lessons too), I told our teacher where he was with his lessons. She totally understood, explained to me that she had a similar feeling when she was 8, and her mother allowed her to stop. She asked to take lessons again when she was 12, and has never stopped.
Piano, smiano, I feel great! I begin this day knowing I will not force Keegan to learn anything, now his dream is coming true, he is free!
Every step we take toward our unschooling life feels so liberating. It feels like knocking out the obsticles so we can get on with the learning that will take us where we need to go. Today I will not interupt his joyful learning to make him practice piano. Yeah! Oh the places we can go!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Deschooling Who?

I've been opening this blog, staring at the blank page and thinking about what to say for a few weeks now. As I have pondered it, many of my friends have started beautiful blogs on unschooling.

We are changing the path of our children's education to what I believe will accommodate the vision I have always had for them. We are unschooling. In theory, it is perfect, but in practice it is far from what feels comfortable to me. Some of our days exemplify through contrast what I do not want for us. I want the children to feel free to learn and explore their passions in an inspiring, happy, non-judgmental home. I wanted to start this blog when it was working out beautifully, when I had something great to share.....

My children have been deschooling for 3 months now, deschooling from homeschool that is. I have homeschooled son Keegan, 8, since May 2005, and daughter Quinn, 6, since June of 2006.

I have been bumping into thoughts lately that maybe it is I who needs the deschooling, and this morning an article, Deschooling for Parents, by Sandra Dodd came to me. She says, "The more quickly you empty your cup and open yourself up to new ideas uncritically, the sooner you will see natural learning blossom." I needed to hear that. She also said that "you'll see it when you believe it". Both of those ideas struck me today....

Yesterday, for most of the day I wouldn't believe it, so I didn't see it.... Sunday morning, my daughter woke up, came downstairs, shared some watermelon juice, conversation and some snuggles with me, then checked to see what the TV line up was for the day. She was elated to discover that there would be a Pokemon marathon, and I mean really elated, joyful, already planning the connection with her brother when he would finally wake to this miracle marathon. As she set herself up for the marathon, my husband, Jim, dove into the day long adventure of fixing our internet connection, and I puttered around, taking care of house, garden, animals. Keegan, who has decided he is part nocturnal(he explains it to me in ever increasing fractions, 1/4, 1/2), slept. Everyone was happy, inspired, content...... except me.

Around noon, I tried to wake Keegan. He was so cozy, enjoying his dreams, and getting even more excited about how nocturnal he is becoming. "What time is it?" he asks, "It's already noon-half the day is over!" I reply. "Wow, I made it till noon, I think I'll keep going." he tells me, so pleased with himself. I leave wondering how I could inspire him to get out of bed, what could be more inspiring to him than his journey to becoming fully nocturnal? And then I briefly considered why I needed to redirect his bliss.....Hmmm. About an hour later, Quinn tells me how fantastic this day is and how wonderful this Pokemon marathon is. She can't help but go tell K. She ran to tell him, and in no time he was downstairs as pumped as she was for the Pokemon marathon-also wishing he had known a few hours earlier. So that was it, a Pokemon marathon would be more inspiring than his quest to be nocturnal. The two of them were a picture of joyful, happy, cooperative, inspired learning, following their current passion, that they share-it really couldn't have been any better.....

Except I was feeling uninspired so... I thought their animals needed to be fed, K's piano practiced, their stuff picked up-because I wanted to clean right now, and they should be dressed, teeth brushed, they should also eat-at the table, and they could use some exercise today. And I mean it would be nice if they did something besides watch TV all day!(I can't beleive I still go there.) That's where I was by 3pm. So I started, little by little, "Could you pick this up? When are you going to do this?" They were very willing to accommodate me during commercials, but ..." I think the TV needs to go off until this is done..." I did it, I knew it was coming, and on this day, I chose to let it come. (Many days it never comes at all, and many days I do actually resist, center, and look at what is really going on here-my issue.) It got worse before it got better. The kids missed the last of the marathon-something that was incredibly important to them, K refused to eat dinner with us, Q tried to salvage the day, I felt like a failure.

When we were homeschooling, they had their sit down learning time, and then we said our verse about "All our doing now has ended, what I have learned will rest...". Then they were free to do whatever they want. Now, unschooling, schooling never starts so learning never stops. Now they are learning all day long. What if they waste the day that they could have been learning? What am I going to put in their box of work this year? How can I see what's going on in their heads? What if they watch a Pokemon marathon on TV all day? I know the answers. I have read books, magazines, articles on unschooling, and best of all, been a part of a Life Learner group for the last year. So why do I still choose to blow up exactly what I am trying to promote in our home, and leave us with everything I am trying to get away from? I can't totally attribute it to my own deschooling, but I think that as I learn to break out of my old mold of what constitutes learning, it should be easier to appreciate this style of natural learning, and where, when and how I "see" learning will change.

We ended up walking to the park. Q still tried to salvage the day by trying to make me smile, K was very angry, I don't think he could believe that I had sabotaged what should have been the best day of his life, K and Q were now fighting.

Then it occurred to me(And it really took that long.). This could have been a great day for all of us. We could have had a Pokemon Marathon Day. I could have made popcorn, we could have eaten in front of the TV, I could have sat down with them and enjoyed them pursuing their passion on this glorious day. I shared this thought with K.

It was a beautiful moment. His anger melted away, he reacted to me like I was an enlightened person. It was like I was welcomed to the club of getting it-getting how important this was to him, honoring his passion, allowing his learning, celebrating his learning! He started shouting P-O-K-E-M-O-N! I had this brief moment of wow, he can spell pokemon(still deschooling!), then I blew that away, and enjoyed the moment of connection with him, and happiness we all felt that he could pursue his passion without my limits.

We went home as quickly as we could, but the marathon was over. We all had our love and joy and understanding back. J and I watched the Peaceful Warrior, and the kids came in and out-they watched their shows in the other room, and traded Pokemon cards. We were all happy. I ended the day seeing it because I was back to believing it.

The article on deschooling for parents put on a few pages what I have been experiencing over the last few months. K and Q are already doing what they need to be-pursuing their passions, enjoying their life, learning. They seem to have already this wisdom about how to live happily and learn that I have lost touch with. K has been telling me for years, "I want to be free!" I have known for awhile that he needs to be unschooling-for much longer than we have been unschooling. My children are leading the way, and I am on my way to going with their flow.

As I was inspired by the Peaceful Warrior-I will live and write the moments. I am enjoying reading my unschooling friend's blogs, about how wonderful it can be, when you all get it! It is working out beautifully.