Monday, December 26, 2011

this short!

So in the past month Josh asked for a haircut,


lost a tooth,

rapunzel's tower

and played with a lot of legos (among other things of course). This one is Rapunzel's tower. He is a big fan of the movie Tangled, which seems to be related to his love of long hair and haircuts as well since Rapunzel gets her hair cut at the end of the movie.

fairy houses

There have been fairy houses,


and a bunny to love (and groom),


(love that face!)

Joshua's button wreath and my thread ornament

Christmas ornaments,

Lucy's button string

and button strings made.

I asked for a smile

And we have been enjoying some amazing weather this December.

beautiful weather

Where is the snow? We'll enjoy the unusually warm temps while we can though!

bike ride

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Art of the Brick

Josh's favorite

These are all cell phone photos so please excuse the blurriness and low quality. About a week ago we went to see an art exhibit at a nearby gallery. Nathan Sawaya builds his sculptures out of Lego bricks (you can read more about his work here: The Art of the Brick), and with Josh being the Lego enthusiast that he is I thought he would really enjoy the exhibit.


"Cracked" -- one of my favorite pieces

the art of the brick

"The Courage Within"

hee hee

So the story behind this photo is that Lyle can get both Josh and Lucy to "go limp" on command. They once played a trick on me when I was in another room. I heard a loud thump and then Lyle started yelling and ran to me carrying Josh, who was completely limp. It was awful--my heart skipped a beat, I felt sick to my stomach, and I thought something horrible had happened to Josh....until they both burst out laughing. It was not as funny as they thought it would be at the time, but it has become a big joke around our house so this particular piece made us laugh and taking a photo like this was irresistible.

lego play 

I was a little nervous about taking the kids to an exhibit that would be so enticing to touch (legos!), but it was fine. There were tons of young kids there that day and they had a play area set up so the kids could play with legos as well. We had a great experience and I'm really glad we had the opportunity to see another side of our beloved legos. Since then we've been checking out a lot of Lego idea books (not to mention watching videos on the Lego website) and it is pretty amazing to me to see what can be done with this classic toy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

small interlocking bricks


They have been keeping us very busy these days. My mom sent us all the legos I played with as a kid so Josh had quite a collection to begin with, though it has definitely grown significantly since then.

legos meet MC Escher 

Inspired by this guy (who was inspired by MC Escher). I actually made the staircase model in this photo, though Josh made one of his own. He took it apart and made something new before I got around to taking photos of it.

alien conquest 

Lego sets have become a lot more complex since I was a kid. There are all kinds of compartments that open up or slide out. The roof comes off so you can play with things inside. It shoots little lego darts and the plane sits on a launcher on top of the truck that can swivel and raise and lower...the list of features goes on and on! It took us two or three days to build this one together.

can you hear the sound effects? 

I can hear the sound effects every time I look at this photo.

lego play 

A visit from the grandparents meant a lot more legos to enjoy! 

lego play 

Lucy is a big fan too.

mixing worlds 

Ninjas, knights, medieval blacksmiths, pirates, aliens and dudes that fight aliens...Legos bring them all together.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Busy, busy, busy...

I am so far behind on this blogging thing, so I'm just going to dump a bunch of photos on you to give a little glimpse at some of the things we were up to during the months of September and October.

marshmallow catapult

A marshmallow catapult, just one of many ideas we found on pinterest (love that site!).

at play

This is a pretty typical scene during Lucy's naptime. When she is asleep we tend to break out some of the more elaborate play  setups (lego scenes or block obstacles courses like the one he made here). Sometimes I even get the chance to bring out my spinning wheel.

our nature journals 

Josh and I started nature journals together. We've done leaf rubbings, collected feathers from our chickens, and drawn pictures of things we see around our yard (especially the chickens and our bunny).

our nature journals

at play

Legos, dolls, books -- all typical parts of our days.

at play

Another play setup. The girl next door gave Josh the plastic house in the background along with some little animals that go with it. She's so sweet!

look mama, I filled the basket up!

Lucy likes to empty baskets and then fill them up, often by putting herself inside.

soapy water (and yarn) 

I make the yarn, but Lucy likes to help wash it (warning, a two year old can absolutely destroy a skein of wet yarn in mere seconds--don't ask me how I know).

jumping on the bed 

Somehow we manage to squeeze in time for jumping on the bed just about every day.

kiddo projects 

We decorate for the holidays...
kiddo projects 

...and the seasons.

the butterfly ninja and cookie monster 

My butterfly ninja and my little cookie monster.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Favorite Subjects

A few days ago someone asked Josh about his favorite subject. It isn't a word we really use at home so he didn't know what she was asking. I wasn't sure if I should step in and explain what she meant, or if I should mention something I know he enjoys (reading is always a safe answer, Josh loves reading/books/stories and nothing reassures a person about your child's educational future like telling them your kid loves to read). There was a short pause in the conversation, and she rephrased the question (something along the lines of, "What do you like learning about?"). Josh thought for a minute, smiled, and answered with something about video games. I smiled, we all laughed, and the conversation moved on.

We are definitely encountering these kinds of questions more and more now that Josh is officially "school age," and I'm sure it is something we'll figure out how to handle better with time. I really don't feel the need to explain our way of life (and learning) to strangers or acquaintances. I actually really enjoy talking about unschooling, and if I begin to open my mouth it may be hard to get me to shut up about it. But for the most part, I'm okay with letting the homeschooling equals school-at-home assumptions slide. I save my unschooling blathering for other unschoolers (or my facebook wall) and in person we are homeschoolers who have awkward pauses in conversation when you ask about curriculum. It is not a perfect solution, but it works out okay for us right now. It reminds me of a blog post I read a few days ago, which said this: 
" does one convey an entire philosophy of living, parenting and being present in a few sentences or minutes? It's not easy, and the risk is always there for misunderstanding and misrepresentation. It takes an entire paradigm shift, in one's thinking, understanding and living, and it's a shift that is required just about every waking moment of unschoolers and unschooling parents..."
On Bradstreet: Speaking of Unschooling
Yeah, you really don't want to ask me unless you want to hear me process my seventeen years of experience in schools and work through my whole thought process out loud, using you to further understand myself (don't worry, you probably don't have to participate all that much, I'll just keep talking).

So tonight when I was going through photos from the last week I thought it would be sort of fun and silly to list some of the "subjects" we've been "studying" around here.

marble run fun

Science (gravity, motion, momentum, acceleration, resistance, forces, direction, speed, kinetic energy, velocity, etc.)

marble run fun



Science, biology, entomology

baktus-ing on the deck

Knitting (one of the most important subjects known to humanity)

at the mud kitchen

Culinary Arts

dis big wock

Dis big wock, heeeavy! (ummm...weighing things, let's file this under mathematics)

to catch a chicken

Animal Husbandry

they are so serious

Art, Career Preparation (tattoo artist)

Trust me, my kids (and me!) are learning stuff. I'll just have to get back to you on the curriculum thing some other time.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Last Days of Summer

the last days of summer 

In these last days of summer, as the weather begins to cool and some kids are headed back to school, I was glad to see Josh and the neighbor kids take advantage of one more warm day. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, we recognize the importance of Josh having the opportunity to play with other kids unsupervised as much as possible. At the end of summer when the gates are closed, the road down to the pond across the street is a great place for them to ride bikes without traffic.

the last days of summer 

When Lucy saw all the older kids getting their bikes and helmets on, she was not going to be left behind!

the last days of summer 

I tried to hang back a bit so the kids could have some time to themselves.

the last days of summer 

Lucy and played on the slide and I admired the beautiful light of the late afternoon.

the last days of summer 

Sure enough, I looked over at one point and saw the kids stripping of clothes and heading for the water. Lucy saw them too, and again, she was not about to be left out of the play. We hadn't planned on swimming so no one had suits or towels, but that didn't stop any of them.

the last days of summer 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NEUC '11

A few weeks ago we went to the Northeast Unschooling Conference.

jumping on the bed 

There was lots of jumping on hotel beds (and jumping from bed to bed for that matter),

running with the pack 

and lots of running with the pack (homemade duct tape weapons in hand),

secrets of nature 

and the Secrets of Nature funshop (and many other funshops and speakers).

the littles loved the trampoline in the toy room 

The mini-trampoline was a big hit.

something you might see at an unschooling conference 

One thing you might see at an unschooling conference is a lot of bumper stickers! There are more photos over on my flickr.

One thing we have been thinking about a lot since the conference is a presentation on The Decline of Play by Peter Gray.  Lyle is the one who attended that talk, so I can't speak to the specifics (this article touches on the subject) but we have been thinking about the importance of free (and as unsupervised as possible) play with other children of mixed ages. It brings back my own memories of running around our neighborhood (and in the woods) with a group of children. We've seen how much Josh loves running around with a pack of kids and it is something we would love for him to have on a more regular basis.

Unfortunately, it seems like it is difficult to find places and kids where this is possible these days. Even in the summer when kids are out of school, we've found that they often aren't home (because parents are working so they are in someone else's care) or that kids aren't outside or don't have the freedom to run around without adult supervision (and honestly this is something I am still becoming more comfortable with as Josh gets a little older). Sometimes even at the playground it seems like kids aren't allowed to run around and play (how many times have I heard,  "don't run/climb/do that" at the playground, often followed by a comment about it being too dangerous). Also, when we do go to playgrounds (or when we drive by) around here they are usually empty, which seems to be a peculiarity of this area because we did not experience this back in Oregon.

Now, I'm not trying to say that things are all bad. We've been fortunate to go to several unschooling gatherings in the last few months where there is a lot of free play. We have a pretty wide group of local-ish unschooling friends. We've also found that the beach is a great place to find other kids even if the playgrounds are empty, and we are lucky enough to live across the street from a very nice pond with a sandy beach. We also have two great 8 and 10 year old neighbors who love to play with Josh. In fact, it was these two neighbors who gave Josh his first experiences running around without any adults. When we moved in last summer they were so excited to have a kid next door and they have been wonderful friends for Josh. We are really fortunate to have them right next door.

We love going places and particpating in some programs and activities, but we would really love to have places and kids to play with on a regular basis without a structured plan or adult-directed activity. I wish it was as easy as walking down the street to see if friends are home at any time of the day, but between kids in school, after school care (or someone else's care during the summer months), and homework it isn't that easy even when you do have kids nearby. We are going to have to be a little more creative than that!