Monday, December 28, 2009

So Far.....

Lucas arrived yesterday for a week long visit. We are always excited to see Luke. He is always a welcomed break in our daily life. Everybody likes having Lucas around, so much that Summer and I usually end up fighting over him. Luckily Lucas is a problem solver and knows how to manage "us girls".

Toby has been at work so he has not even had a chance to spend any time with us yet.

Today it was just Luke, Summer and I so he got to run my Monday errands with us. Our first stop was the post office where I had a package that has been awaiting me through the holidays for a few days.

Have I mentioned before that aside from having the coolest husband and kids I also have a very generous and cool brother?????? With us having a fairly small family in comparison to most folks we know - and most of those few that we do have being estranged, we tend to really appreciate having the few close ones that we do play a part in our lives.

Anyway, my brother sent me a very nice GPS! Little did he know that I am going to find more than one use for his extravagant purchase. For the longest time I have been interested in Geocaching. The GPS will enable me to find my way around Austin and explore the potential hobby of Geocaching. (Don't laugh, yes, after 2 years of living in Austin I still have directional issues.)

So after running our errands and a nice lunch at Ryan's with the kids we headed to the homestead.

Technology is great. As Lucas and I were exploring google maps last night we discovered there was another pond in the greenbelt right behind our house. In the past, we have hiked all around this pond and had never seen it.

We ventured out to find the pond and do a little nature walk. Lucas finally found the pond....

We also did a lot of rock hunting. Lucas is very impressed with fossil rocks and the different rock formations so we spent some time souvenir hunting.

Summer found her some sand to play in.....sand is a rarity here so when she finds it she makes full use of it....

Here is Luke inspecting a bone we found...

Between me dragging Lucas on errands and into the greenbelt and Summer forcing him on the trampoline with her and her friends, I am sure that he will be a very wore out young man by the time he makes it back home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Been Awhile..

After a short blogging vacation, I can't really say that I missed it all that much. Even so, I thought I would give an update of what's been going on around our house for the past month for those of you who keep up with our life here in Big Tex.

Somehow, the weather went from a couple of weeks of Fall straight into Winter - even before Winter even began. That kinda put a damper on hiking or any outdoor activities - I hibernate when the temps get below 60 degrees.

I have not even pulled out my camera until recently....

The latest news is Summer's 4-H project. She has elected to choose rabbits as her project. This rabbit project has consumed most of our free time..or should I say Toby and Summer's time therefore turning into my time.

They had to build the rabbit cage which took a few mornings and afternoons. I guess you could say that I have an attitude about the rabbit project. It has not been a cheap project money or labor-wise.

Even so, as I look back on it, I can say that it has been a positive experience for Toby and Summer. They have worked side by side for the past few weeks and I think Toby may have sneaked in a little "school"....Oh, school, that is a totally different story....

Although my very sensitive, animal loving daughter has been warned not to get attached to these "meat rabbits" as they are so called, I'm not sure the impact has hit her yet that her rabbits will most likely end up as for some lucky winner.

Brandi was pretty curious about these new invasions. She is used to having rabbits run from her when she chases them out of the back yard.

Now for the "school" issue. We have taken a dramatic turn in the way we "school" around here. We gave school up like a bad habit. I am white knuckling this concept coined unschooling. If you wonder what in the heck unschooling is you can read about it here.

With traditional schooling and my love of teaching embedded deep in my brain I initially had a very hard time letting things just flow. I also have a very hard time believing that someone can learn something without being "taught"

Well, we are several weeks into my experimental unschooling adventure. These has been my observations of the past several weeks:

Although I have been strewing as instructed by the unschooling veterans, Summer still doesn't seem any more interested in picking up a book than she was when I forced her to read daily. Good news is, somehow she can still read very fluently her National Geographic Kids, the fortune from out of her fortune cookie at the Chinese restaurant, or the recipe instructions for those cookies she wants to eat.

She will contemplate math only when she needs to use it. For instance, she was very good at dividing up our Christmas check from my dad amongst the three of us. She also has no problem counting money.

I even caught her practicing cursive handwriting on her own the other day.

We also have been focusing on real world activities....doing laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, paying bills, chores, etc.

These are just a few examples.

The most important and biggest change has been our relationship. When I was forcing us to sit down and comply to lesson plans and spoon feeding knowledge down her throat it became nothing but a big power struggle. At then end of our school day I was emotionally exhausted and she had turned into a resentful demon with horns.

I also have learned a few things myself. Not every child is academic in nature. I should know, because I certainly never was. Sure, every child should be strongly encouraged to read, write and do basic math but once that is mastered everything else is nothing but "fat" and "useless knowledge" unless you will be using it for a specific purpose.

Instead of focusing on my daughters weaknesses, I have chosen to focus on her strengths which are her physical abilities. For most parents it's always a big ego boost for a parent when their child makes the honor roll. I have been guilty of getting a swollen head myself when my son would come home with A's on his report card.

Summer may not ever make the honor roll or be able to spout off her multiplication tables like a performing monkey but I have seen her perform on our trampoline doing flips, cartwheels, etc. I have also witnessed her trek for miles on a hiking trail with Toby and I without not one complaint of being tired or sore. She is very physically strong and is very at ease with riding a bike, skating, skateboarding, and other physical activities.

Now that we don't "school" anymore I have a closer relationship with my daughter. Once again we laugh together, hang out, cook together, watch T.V, and do ALOT of pretend play. We once again enjoy each other's company without that elephant in the room called "school."

From what I have witnessed that past couple of months, I am confident that she will learn what she needs to learn when she needs to learn it. We can now sit back and enjoy life in the moment of now every day.

My little girl...