Our Week of Adventures

Off work this week and making the most of it with as many free activities as possible. Check it out! Pictures and videos abound here.

On Saturday, after dinner, we headed out to Horicon Marsh  Education and Visitor Center for their candlelit hike event. It was nearly an hour drive to the shuttle location, since I’d read that parking was limited. I’m SO glad we went that route because B got to have his first school bus ride! He was nervous on the way to the marsh. Once we got there, we explored the visitor center and then headed outside to the giant bonfire they had going. B loves fire and there were marshmallows to roast, so…BONUS! We met some interesting people who shared pictures of the Lineolated Parakeets that they raise. It was about ten degrees outside so we didn’t stay too long but were glad to have gone anyway. B’s favorite part of this adventure was the bus ride back to our car. We sat at the very back of the school bus and bounced and laughed the whole way there.

Sunday and Monday we just vegged out at home and B played a lot of video games and watched some of his favorite YouTubers; Jacksepticeye, Markiplier, EthanGamerTV and FGTeeV. I played some Spore on our PC. B was curious where some of the YouTubers lived so we found Ireland and Sweden on our world map. I did some toilet paper roll stamp art, a tape resist painting and a splatter painting with stretched rubber bands. B didn’t join in, except to stamp a heart over my heart, but he thought the tape resist was cool so he may do one at some point. He isn’t as artsy fartsy as his mom.

Tuesday we headed downtown to visit two museums. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum was one that B was excited to explore. This is so not my thing, but his learning isn’t going to be hampered by my distaste for war. I had printed off scavenger hunt pages from their website beforehand, since I knew I would be of no help besides reading signage. B moved through the exhibits, looking at things of interest to him, staying as long as he wanted. There were areas where he beamed and I was grateful for this unschool life that gives us such freedom. He loved the submarine periscope that had been repurposed in the museum to view outside. He could see the capitol building and surrounding area.

After the Veterans Museum, we headed over to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. All but two galleries were closed down for new installations so there wasn’t much to see but we did utilize the kids pack that they lend out at the reception desk to engage kiddos in the art. The highlight here was probably the large glass staircase that B delighted in dragging me up and down. He loves to help me push my boundaries of comfort with heights and such.

Wednesday we headed to Olbrich Botanical Gardens to hang out in their conservatory. It’s one of my favorite things to do this time of year, when everything is covered in snow and the gloom threatens to take over. The warmth, smells, peace and beauty does my heart good. B remembered to bring coins because they have a machine there where you can press a penny into a keepsake. He’s always wanted to do it and we never had the coins with us, so he planned ahead! He also made a connection there that floored me. The conservatory had an exhibit about how chocolate is made. He wasn’t all that interested, but we did read one sign about how marshmallows started out being made with marshmallow plant sap. That connected, in his brain, with a comment that had been made by Annoying Orange in a video he’d watched. I’m always amazed by how the learning process unfolds!

At home we worked on some ice experiments that we had set up the night before. We froze Lego mini-figures in two plastic cups of water. Be chose to melt one with salt and one with the hair dryer to see which was faster.

Thursday was B’s monthly “Guys Read” book club at the library. He was super excited to share with everyone that he had read, not just the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book that was assigned, but the second and third in the series as well. We’re making progress with this reluctant reader! Mama is happy.

Friday was a half day for the school kids in the neighborhood so three of them came over and B sledded with them, in our back yard. I made a repurposed candle holder with tissue paper and Mod Podge.

This week has been a lot of fun and I wish I had every day at home with my little guy, but we have managed to make the most of the time we had. We still have the weekend too…


I Care What You Think

I’ve come to the conclusion recently, after years of being told not to, that I do care what people think. Honestly, I believe it’s an inherent human adaptation. We live in groups, whether it’s a family, community or country. As children, this is how a great deal of learning takes place. We watch and mimic and watch others’ reactions.

When we want to claim that we don’t care what other people think, it’s because some bad ass part of us is going against the grain. Here’s the thing. You can care what people think. It’s whether or not you let it inhibit your choices to do what you feel is right, in your heart, that actually is important.

Powering Down

As unschoolers, we trust our children to make the choices about what they do with their time. Who would know better how to spend one’s day than oneself? This is where, as parents, we often get accused of unparenting. Nothing could be further from the truth and I’ll tell you why.

Parenting a child who unschools means you need to stay in tune with your child. Really see them and know them and understand how they tick so that you can best facilitate their journey. With no curriculum to guide you, the child is the guide and you all know how much they change every day. So, this is no small feat.

I have tended toward the radical unschooling end of the spectrum, as much as our lifestyle allows. B chooses when he goes to sleep, how much and when he eats, what outside activities he wants to go experience, and until a couple days ago, how much screen time he wanted.

When our schedule changed in September, four months ago, he was given carte blanche with the computer, game systems, and his tablet. I noticed as time went on that less choices were being made to do other activities. Science experiments, that were once an almost daily thing, were not an interest. YouTubers were becoming a source of ‘friendship’ of sorts. Our cabinets and closets and shelves of toys, books, games and puzzles were becoming completely ignored.

I was still strewing and asking often if certain activities might be of interest and was increasingly being told, not right now. While months were going by, I was holding the trust that he would soon learn to self regulate his screen usage. Then I started to notice things he would say about sucking at real life or that he didn’t smile much any more. He started chewing his nails until they bled. We talked about it feeling difficult for him to shut down the screens and do other things that he enjoyed. He ‘couldn’t.’

Not every child, or adult for that matter, is going to be that way. Part of the trust and being in tune with your child, is being aware of when you need to step in and help set healthy limits. We all need help now and then. He is upset about having these new limits and I even heard, “you’re not the boss of me!” We will get through it together because, no, I’m not the boss of him, we are a team, but I’m also his mom. My duty is to do what’s best for him and help him be his best self.