Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse -- Early Morning Awe

Matt, Riley, and I woke up and headed to the backyard just before 5:00 a.m. this morning to snuggle into our sleeping bags on our leaf-covered trampoline and watch the total lunar eclipse. We chatted, wondered what ancient people might have thought about eclipses, looked through binoculars, and drifted in and out of sleep as the bright full moon slowly darkened from "top" to "bottom" over the first hour, then changed to beautiful reddish hues over the next hour. By the midpoint of the total eclipse, it was turning daylight here and becoming difficult to see the moon, so we came in for doughnuts and blueberry muffins. I don't have nearly enough zoom on my camera lens for a decent photo of the eclipse, but I imagine there are/will be some good ones here. Matt and Riley: sorry about the camera flash in the face for this photo!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Seth!

Today is Seth's 4th Birthday. After presents and cards and cake decorating at home in the morning, we had a family dinner and birthday party at my Grandmother's house in Frankfort. Seth had so much fun playing with his new monster trucks and Ben 10 toys. Once we got home, we watched the Night at the Museum DVD that Papa and Kathie gave him; and now he is once again happily playing monster trucks. The day is always bittersweet as I remember Seth's twin, who I lost very early in the pregnancy and because Seth is my only child who never met my Mom, at least not in this world, anyway. I've always kind of comforted myself with the idea that Seth was for all of us here and his twin stayed with Mom -- she was absolutely in love with being a grandmother. I am just so grateful that our family is blessed with this little guy -- he brings us so much joy, laughter, and love.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Over the last few months, Riley has been through the process of making a pretty big change in his daily life. For the last couple of years, tae kwon do (and more recently judo and hap ki do) has been a huge part of his life, a major passion, and the driving force behind much of his learning, sparking interests in Korean history, culture, and language as well as those related to other great martial arts traditions. He was almost always practicing his forms or talking about tae kwon do, no matter where we were or what we were doing. He had opportunities to challenge himself physically and mentally, participate in several competitions and demonstrations, lead classes; and he had advanced to a red belt. Our whole family was blessed with the opportunity to meet and become friends with some truly wonderful people at his tae kwon do school.

He did learn and experience some things I wish he hadn't, like saying "yes, sir" when he truly meant "no." He had really great insights from experiences I felt sketchy about him having, though, too. I was less than enthusiastic about going to competitions. He loved them though. He loved meeting people from other towns and other schools. He told me after one competition about how much fun it was to win first place trophies but it kind of took away from it to know his new friend who didn't win wasn't feeling very happy.

Over the last several months, his enthusiasm started to fade. It waxed and waned for a while, but he has pretty surely decided he is finished with martial arts for now. I've been pretty surprised at how difficult this has been for me. For one thing, it was such a huge part of our lives, even though Riley was the only one actually participating. Maya and Seth and I were always there with him while he did his classes (usually 3 or 4 1-hour classes during the week and then I went with him for 3 hours on Saturdays), and we all had friends we enjoyed hanging out with there. And then there were the old tapes resurfacing for me around the subject of quitting. I'm amazed at the way my thoughts about his choice to continue on through the last year of the black belt program or not snowballed for me into fears that he would forever after walk away from everything he was involved with when he got a little bored or interested in something else or that he would forever after stick with something just because he started it, feeling trapped and unable to change directions. I did a lot of "talking myself down" from all of that drama as well as the comments from others that I should just make him stick with it for the Noble Cause of finishing what one starts.

I did however, badger him a bit too much about why his interest tanked so completely. I think it would have been easier for me to understand if there had been some major thing that happened to cause this big turnaround. There wasn't.

As skateboarding and several games and other activities have emerged as new interests, I did ask him if he didn't feel like he had time to do all of it. After all, he doesn't have 8 or so hours of his day taken up with school. He explained that it wasn't that he didn't have enough time for martial arts and his newer passions, just not enough interest right now. That was really the end of my agonizing over the situation. He is simply flowing right along, quite thoughtfully, with what he knows is right for himself -- without a lot of fears and what ifs and shoulds clouding his choices.

We all make these kinds of choices as adults -- changing jobs or careers, moving, stopping and starting hobbies and interests. Kids often have their choices made for them (well, except for lame pseudo choices like "Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt today?"). They also are often held to a stricter standard of "once you start it you have to finish it" than most of us hold ourselves to. Had I persuaded his direction or presumed to know the best choice for him, he would have missed this particular opportunity to freely choose to walk away from one set of experiences and walk toward others and to learn more about which are most in tune with who he is.

As he goes right on learning and making thoughtful choices, I learn to trust a little more, listen a little more, and enjoy the journey.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Monster Jam!!!!

Okay, so I'm finally getting around to blogging about our Monster Jam Weekend. This was Seth's early birthday present, and I'll need to post about his actual birthday tomorrow! It was so much fun to take him to Toledo at the end of July to see this live monster truck show and to experience his contagious joy for something he is incredibly passionate about.

The next day we went to COSI Toledo, Seth still in his Monster Jam shirt, which he always wears backwards so he can see the truck pictures:

We finished the day at Lake Erie before heading back home:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Since it isn't something I often have pictures of, I wanted to write a little about stories. Occasionally the kids will write or type a short story, make a book, or ask me to write or type a story as they tell it to me. Most times so far, however, the most elaborate storytelling here never makes it to paper. Through play, the kids create stories inspired by something they've read or seen, experiences they've had, or new ideas. Sometimes they dress up in costumes, find all kinds of props, and act out these stories with themselves as the characters. Other times they use toy characters, setting up scenes and adventures. And sometimes, they just tell the stories they've dreamed up. Just a few evenings ago, Riley came to me and asked if we could go out for a drive, just the two of us. We did, and it turned out that he had several stories on his mind that he was anxious to tell me. Maya and Seth came across our camping lantern another evening as we were getting ready for bed, and we turned out all the lights (except the lantern) and took turns making up "scary" stories. Another recent evening as we were getting ready to go to sleep, Maya and Seth came up with a story about The Different Zoo. They played with rhyming and alliteration as they told about all the kinds of animals there that aren't at ordinary zoos, such as a spider biter, cat bat, rat cat, pigs with wigs, and chatting cheetahs.
I don't see my role in this as being to "teach" my kids to create, role play, or play and experiment with language. Instead, I see my role as being to provide a nurturing environment with *lots* of time and space for my kids to do their own things and as being available to respond, whether their need is for me to facilitate or join in their play, to help them get their ideas on paper or on the computer, or to simply listen.
Above: Play inspired by the Wizard of Oz movie

Late July

Here are some photos from the latter part of July.

We have really enjoyed the COSI on Wheels programs that Kenton County Parks & Recreation has arranged monthly this summer. There is one more program this week -- an agriculture theme, I believe. Below is a shot of the Chemistry program. The other picture is of a white-marked tussock moth caterpillar Seth found on a nearby tree. We thought it looked like something out of a fairy tale -- my picture doesn't do it justice.
The kids haven't been interested much in hiking this year. Maya, especially, is still hesitant after a hike we did last fall where the trail was just carpeted with spiders. We did enjoy a short nature walk at the Boone County Arboretum at Central Park and visited the playground and Children's Garden there.

We've been having a great time at Kings Island this summer, usually going there about once a week in the evening after Matt gets off work. Riley has been fascinated with roller coasters since he was a toddler, though he's not been crazy about riding them so far. He decided he loves the Scrambler, though, and we've ridden that many times this summer. Maya is tall enough to ride more coasters this year, which she is happy about. They love to read all about roller coasters and other rides, and we rent the Popular Mechanics for Kids videos about roller coasters every year. We're going again next week with some friends for Homeschool Days -- maybe I'll finally take my camera with me. And hopefully before it closes for the year Matt and I will get there by ourselves to ride the big rides! Here is a picture of one of the Tinker Toy versions of the rides the kids made a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


People often ask us how unschooling "works" for some particular school subject. I am adding tags to posts so they will be searchable by some typical school subject areas (language arts, math, science, etc.). However, in approach, we never set out to "do math" or "do spelling" as a subject separated out from any other subject. We set out to do the things we love and enjoy doing, look for new things we think we might enjoy doing, and we find that these (and more!) "subjects" are all very naturally intertwined with life and with each other. One interest or experience connects with another and another, often in very unexpected ways that we could not plan out ahead of time.