Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unschooling a 2 Year Old

I've had a few people ask me when I plan to start unschooling Echo. I always do a little inward sigh when this happens because unschooling is so hard to explain (not that I don't love talking about it!). The thing is, unschooling is a lifestyle. There is no start, or I guess it would be more accurate to say that we start at birth and we never ever stop. We do a lot of "educational" things with Echo every day but it boils down to following her interests and exploring the things she wants to explore. My job as an unschooling mom is to provide her with the materials she needs and expose her to as much as possible so she can discover new interests.

For example: Echo has recently developed a strong interest in Winnie the Pooh. She is crazy about anything to do with Pooh and his friends. She talks about them all the time and can't get enough of reading pooh stories. We want to encourage her passion for Pooh as much as possible and have found her as many Pooh related resources as we can. We checked out pooh books from the library, My parents gave us a huge stash of Pooh books they got at the used book store along with some pooh figurines she can play with with. Eric's parents got her a plush pooh doll that she likes to sleep with and pretend to cook for. We have sticker books, classic pooh stories, modern pooh stories and we have watched every pooh cartoon we can get our hands on multiple times.

By following her interest and doing something she loves with her we are showing her the things she cares about are important to us. She is learning all kinds of things through imaginative play and language arts (if you want to put educational labels on things which I generally don't do). It is so exciting to watch her delve really deep in to something and it's amazing all the unintended things she learns just from exploring a subject she is passionate about.

Echo spends her days playing outside (see her amazing rock tower in the photos above), reading (us reading out loud to her and her looking through books on her own), painting and drawing, building with blocks, working puzzles, and cooking (both pretend and real). She also practices cutting, glueing, working with play dough, and sewing on the sewing machine. We take her to the library, the botanical gardens, craft and story time at Whole Foods, museums, parks, on everyday errands like the grocery store and hiking when we have the time. We have struggled with how to address boundaries for media but have settled in to a nice routine of having a family movie night a few times a week.

I'm sure I'll be writing a lot about our unschooling journey throughout the years but but this is how it works in the early years (and really later on too). We do what we do, we live our lives and we learn along the way.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

September Photos

September is one of my favorite months. The weather starts to get nicer, Fall officially begins, and it's the month my first little girl was born! Here are some photos of the fun times we had last month including a trip to the aquarium for Echo's Birthday!

Hanging out with Milo and Adam

Eric gets some quality time with Clover

She's getting cuter all the time

The Birthday girl makes her first trip to the aquarium

Sister love

Opening presents

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Upcycled Diaper Clutch

I stopped carrying a diaper bag and started just carrying a large regular purse this year. My old diaper bag was falling apart and diaper bags are crazy expensive. I love my large purse but the problem is it doesn't have a ton of pockets to store things so it ends up being a hot mess of disorganization. To help with that problem I whipped up this little envelope pouch to store diapers in.

It's made from an old shirt and pair of pants that my brother was getting rid of, I love being able to salvage material from something and giving ti a new life! It came out a little wonky because I was in a hurry and didn't use a pattern or really measure anything but it's still cute and serves it's purpose.

I was able to use some Pentel Fabric Fun Dye Sticks to add a little leaf design. This dye sticks were a present from Eric years ago and I never got around to using them until just now but I am already sold! They are so cool! They go on like oil pastel but then you can iron them to set the dye and the design becomes permanent and machine washable. I see myself using these in lots of projects to come.

Why I Blog

Sometimes I feel a little selfish and foolish for keeping a blog. It can seem a little self indulgent from time to time and I can't help but feel guilty for spending time on it when I need to be doing about a million other things. However I had a conversation with my mom the other day that made me think about things a little differently.

We were talking about what books we were reading and making time to read and my mom commented on how when you are a kid you are encouraged to read as much as possible and it is viewed as a really positive way to spend your time. When you grow up however, you suddenly feel that you are being "lazy" when you spend time reading and it can be viewed by some as a waste of time (especially if you are reading fiction). I realized that blogging could be viewed the same way. If my kids wanted to start a blog (you know, once they are reading and writing age) I would be thrilled! It is a good exercise in writing and documenting the projects you do. Not to mention the fact that it's relaxing and works like a journal in that it can be a therapeutic way to express thoughts and feelings.

It's easy to get in to a mindset when you are done with formal schooling where you don't value you the things that once brought you joy and that are in fact, a way to broaden your mind and experiences. For example, I rarely make time for my own personal art projects any more. This is something that I used to spend a ton of time on, it makes me sad that I've kind of lost the thrill of making art for no reason other than my own personal fulfillment. Maybe when the kids get a little older I will make time to get back to it. Right now I am just focusing on some other art forms such as cooking, sewing and writing this blog!

When I think of the example I want to set for my kids, it's so important that they see me pursuing my own projects and things that I love. I want to instill in them the love of learning and creating that I have and that can be all too easy to forget about when you get caught up in the day to day grind. My blog posting may come and go in terms of regularity, but as long as it's something I enjoy and find value in I will try to keep it up!