Adventures in Unschooling

Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

We are growing frogs.

Here is the life cycle we have amassed so far.

Stage 7: There are no more gills and the body is larger. The eyes are also visible here.

Stage 6: The taddie develops gills.

Stage 5: Tail shape is changing. More growth.

Stage 4: Fully hatched. They eat boiled lettuce.

Stage 3:

Stage 2: Eggs are changing shape.

This happened in a very short amount of time. When the weather is cold, it can take two years for a frog to reach maturity. When it is warm (like my house), it can take weeks.

We went frog hunting the other day and couldn’t find any. We could hear them croaking very loudly in the distance but no matter how far we walked they were always just a little bit further.

After admitting defeat, we started walking home.

I spotted this clump of frog eggs in the ditch. I thought, if I can not find some, I will grow some.

Stage 1: In natural habitat (I only took a very small amount -this is what was left when I was done).

Advertisements

I spend so much time reading books on every kind of topic. I used to mostly focus on parenting and nutrition. I have learned to eat really healthy but I also indulge in mint and chocolate chip ice cream. I know that I shouldn’t punish my kids but when I am at the end of my rope I do.

The truth is that my parents left me a little screwed up but so did your parents. And you and I will all leave our kids a little screwed up. I am positive that that is true. 

One kid will say, my parents didn’t care enough to set boundaries for me and the other will say my parents cared too much and put up too many boundaries for me to be able to grow and develop independence. Striking the perfect balance is impossible I am convinced. I do like the books because they help me understand the logic between the parenting styles. 

We are quite liberated. We let our kids dress like superheroes to the grocery store and they can paint on themselves if they want. They pick out their own clothes, no matter where we are going and they even pick out their own footwear (to buy and to wear). Someday it’s rubber boots with swimming trunks and long sleeved dress shirts. That’s just how we roll. 

I frequently encourage my kids to do things for themselves. If they want a free cookie from the grocery store they have to ask for it themselves. I tell them, “I don’t want one. If you want one, you need to go ask.” 

So Trey will run to the cookie counter and say, “Three cookies please. One for my brother and one for my sister and one for me.” Then he brings me the one he had received for Anna and gives it to her unscathed. 

I find that they are very generous with each other as well. They share their food quite willingly. And will think of each other when they have items. One day Joel found a bunch of change on the ground (nickels and pennies etc.) and he took half of them, put them in his pocket and then gave the rest of them to Trey. We try to not force them to share their toys. If I get something and Kevin asks for it. I will gladly share…when I am ready. When I start a book or something I expect to be able to finish it before I pass it one to someone else. I respect that my kids have similar needs. They shouldn’t have to share if they are using something. I do encourage bartering then. When Trey wants something Joel has and he starts crying, I tell him that Joel wants that right now. If he wants to find a more appealing toy for Joel then Joel might be willing to trade his toy for a different one. This often works. And if it doesn’t then tough cookies. He has to wait his turn. 

But I have a problem with some of the kids shouldn’t have responsibilities and kids shouldn’t be forced to be part of the family. In my house we care for each other. I just paid an exorbitant amount of money for 3D IMAX tickets to Toy Story 3 for this weekend. Do I care to go? Not really. But my boys have been psyched for this for months. And I couldn’t get cheaper seats…so $65 later we are going to be watching ONE movie for about TWO hours! What a waste of cash. But they want it and it’s not always about me. 

I make them food they like often. And I seldom get my yummy mint/chocolate chip ice cream because I am the only one that likes it. We are a co-op and we love each other and we help each other. So, they must tidy up the common area when they are done. And they have unrestricted access to the craft cabinet. BUT, they have to clean up after themselves. They often play on my table and I use that for eating and working etc. So they are expected to pick up their pieces of Play Doh. I know some other unschooling moms don’t agree with that. They follow behind their children, clean up the mess and get everything ready for the next creative session. But the fact is that I don’t want to decide to make pie and have to clean up paint, sidewalk chalk, Play Doh and all that stuff first. I think it teaches mutual respect. 

When they lose the pieces to a game, we don’t get angry. We simply use the pieces we can or throw it out if it’s no longer useable. But we don’t buy a replacement one. They’ll ask if they can have more LEGO and I’ll say no. They each have a bucket that is full to the brim in LEGO. All they want are the LEGO men. Which they insist on toting with them to the farm, the library, the grocery store, etc. Then they promptly lose them or pieces of them. LEGO is expensive and we have had to draw a line in the sand. When he gets money (for his birthday or whatever) he chooses to spend it on LEGO. That is his choice. 

He’ll even tell me sometimes, “Mom, I am taking my toy with me when we go shopping. And if I lose it that’s my problem OK?” I just laugh and say, “OK.” 

I am amazed at how strong and independent they are. They make their own choices and respect my opinion (sometimes). They will ask if it safe for them to run to the car or they’ll tell me that they are bringing this toy outside. The other day I realized that before the boys went to bed they had brought some sidewalk chalk into their room. Joel had drawn all over his dark sheets with these pretty pastel chalks. Can you think of a better canvas for chalk than a dark sheet? The contrast was beautiful. I didn’t get mad. All it took was a tumble in the wash to get it clean again. No harm done. He got to be creative at no one’s expense. Good for him! 

I will post a picture when I get my computer back from the “shop.” 

I guess what I am getting at with all of this rambling is that I don’t care what the books say. I am going to try to treasure their individuality and try to respect them. And we’ll forget about the details. You take it one day at a time and stop feeling guilty that you aren’t living up to someone else’s expectations. 

And speaking about choices and respect for others, I took my kids to a Gay Pride Parade last Saturday. It was colourful, full of techno music and by far the most vibrant and fun parade I have ever been to. And it was the most beautiful day we have had in two weeks. There was no raining on this parade. LOL. 

The kids tried to understand what the parade was about but I wasn’t able to explain it very clearly. I did my best but those are hard concepts to get when you are five years old and you don’t even fully grasp that there are different family units from your own. No matter though, they got candy, stickers, necklaces and had a great time.  Trey kept saying, “Mom, this is like New Years!” I don’t know where that came from because we never go to any parties at New Years! LOL. 

The most amazing part was the types of people in the parade. There was representation from everything from gay nightclubs, to political parties, to banks, to grocery stores, to United Churches, to lobby groups. So many people came out to show support for personal choice and human justice (in the form of equal rights). 

I always used to think, what difference does it mean if they are “married” or not but it turns out lots. They don’t get penalized on their taxes for example. And picture this scenario, you and your lover have been together for 12 years. Your family is religious and upset about the person you chose to be your life partner. So you don’t talk to them. But the person whom you share your life with knows everything about you. One day you get in a violent car accident and end up in the hospital. You mother gets called in to make the life or death decisions for you. You partner is excluded from the emergency room, funeral arrangements. Instead of being cremated and tossed from a mountain top as you had instructed your lover to do, you are buried in a ghastly blue dress your estranged mother chose. The truth is that without marriage the life partner can not be considered equal to a spouse in decisions like this. It is important that they get to choose who should represent them in their finances, their child rearing and their deaths. 

But won’t that open up the door to other types of marriages? You mean like polygamy or child marriages? NO! Get over it you cry babies. Gay marriage is a marriage of mutual consent between ADULTS. It won’t open up the door for child rape etc. And to top it off, a study has come out recently saying that the children of lesbians are better adjusted than the normal population. They have lower incidences of substance abuse and have lower incidences of mental disturbances. 

Seriously, two mommies? How can this not be a win, win? Even my husband said so. It’s usually the fathers being cold and distant that causes these behavioural problems. Two warm, comfy mommies? Right on! 

 

On our nature walk we also found bugs/insects:

And some unusual plants:

 Something that looks like tall asparagus. And I didn’t bother checking the name of the one on the right but I know that it is a water plant and it was found in a moist ditch.

One of these days I will have to look up all of these plants and add them to our nature journal.

Last weekend we took the kids for a walk inside some of the city’s wilderness areas.

My real motivation here was to hunt for morels and while I did find many mushrooms I wouldn’t eat any of the ones I found.

See for your self:

 

A while ago I was raving about our reuse centre and all of the great crafting supplies we have gotten from there. We have gotten everything from sewing patterns to plaster to paper plates to envelopes for my home made cards to zippers to plastic egg cartons (which I use for mixing paint).

And today I am wanting to rave about our thrift store. Aside from some wonderful resource books I have also found science kits and glasses for my kids. I wanted some glass cups (since I hate plastic so much) for my boys to use now that they are older and have gotten over the butter fingers part of childhood. But I wanted glasses that I wouldn’t mind if they got broken accidentally. They had a piles of glasses at $0.49 a piece. So I bought a matching set of eight and now I can store some of the plastic cups. Also, the plastic cups don’t clean well in my dishwasher and having my boys using glass cups will mean I can clean their cups in the dishwasher. And that saves me time!

One of the science kits we bought was a plant growing kit. Everything was still in the original packaging. It came with “hot house” tubes and peat moss pellets and even plaster for doing demonstrations about how seeds can crack through hard mediums like concrete. There was more to it than just that and it was worth every penny of that $2.99 I spent on it.

You can see a seed in peat above and the picture on the side is the pinto that we started many weeks ago and the other is one of the “hot house” seed things we have growing.

It’s hard to see as it’s in the background but it’ll be the same kind of idea as the time I grew seeds in a ziploc bag.

The other set I picked up was a large chemistry set for five bucks. It has many, many different experiments to try. Everything from basic chemical reactions to testing pH to creating reactions using electricity etc.

I also found three boxes of prepared slides for a microscope. The slides contain bits of plants and bugs. I don’t have a microscope yet but I didn’t want to pass on those slides.

I finished my sun the other day. I think it really needs a glaze. One of these days we’ll head over to the ol’ art store and see what they’ve got.

It looks too matte and it is very porous. I think a glaze would make a world of difference.

It now hangs in my kitchen. A little bit of Mexican sunshine for our depressing snowy lives.

Speaking of snow, it is getting warmer out there and it is melting. Woo hoo!

These pictures were taken on Monday’s walk:

I love how beautiful snow looks when it melts. Even dirty snow. It has such a voluptuous texture. I couldn’t help but run my fingers along the round ridges.

I have also found a little bit of time to paint. This is the newest piece in my new Urban collection. OK, it has two pieces in it but I think I may have finally found my art style.

I love it the way it is. My husband thinks it need a little something more. But it’s mine so it is staying like that. I love the simplicity and contrast. What do viewers think?

We have been very stressed these days. Luckily,  my husband and I have been making it a priority to not blame each other and to take time to reconnect with each other.

Money stresses are notorious for breaking couples apart but even though we are both noticeably stressed out we are still finding time to encourage and love each other. This is making all of the difference in the world.

We have also been making sure we go out for fresh air and exercise everyday and that we are trying to eat healthy. My husband also watched a documentary that touched on the concept of using Vitamin C to increase health and reduce stress etc. So he wants to buy a Vitamin C supplement. I assured him that we had lots of Vitamin C in our mostly raw diet but he insists on a supplement. How cute is that? I love my holistic hubby!

But the problem still persists even if we are trying not to let it get to us. And after waiting and waiting for a decent job to come up for my husband, our budget is getting desperate. So I called my old employer and they can get me working right away. Probably by Monday.

It really bites that I won’t have the time to play with my kids or to make art and crafts. To read and to uncook. But we need the money.

Plus my hubby has a minor surgery coming up this month and he would have to take about eight to ten work days off for it and that would be hard for us to budget too. So, I go back to work. He can focus on healing, our bills get paid and that’s really all there is to it.

Besides, I figure that after his career gets going he will be supporting me for the rest of my life so I am happy to be able to take this stress off of his shoulders for now.

He will still need to find a part time job to help us catch up from the last month of little to no income.

We would have been better off but he wasted two weeks with this company only to find out they lied to him about his earning potential. They wanted to pay him $11/hr. That’s after the two week $9/hr training period. Yeah, he has a house, a van, a wife and three kids. $11/hr should be enough. Right?

They knew he had a whole butt-load of people depending on him and they still lied to him. So he is expecting a tiny paycheque but it will not cover most of our expenses. Plus they asked him to use his van to tote people around and the company never compensated him for it.

They are scum bags!

But anyway, the company I am going back to pays me semi-fairly and I get a deposit in my account every Monday like clock work. I need that kind of stability after the last three months we have had.

This is my painting from yesterday:

These are the boys’ clay projects: 

They are unfinished of course. We will paint them tomorrow.

This one is mine:

And yesterday I let Trey take pictures with my digital camera.

This one I just had to share:

He caught his little sister and brother curled up in the corner cupboard in the kitchen eating brown sugar straight out of the container. Look at Anna’s little face. That sugar is plastered all over her. Ha ha ha.