Thursday, 31 March 2016

Super Structures

I love science.  God has created such an interesting world for us to discover.  It is no surprise that I was a super cool science teacher and an engineer before homeschooling my boys.  While searching around Pintest for some fun things to do with the boys, I found this one from Frugal Fun for Boys.  I was inspired me to ask the boys if they wanted to try something similar. They were intrigued…

First thing to do is gather building supplies.  I used a variety of wooden blocks and spools.  To avoid arguments I made sure each boy had the same blocks in their piles.

Challenge 1: Build a structure using one spool as the base.
Challenge 2: Build the tallest structure using any kind of base.
Challenge 3: Build a structure using one cube as the base.

Challenge 4: Build a structure with in interesting sense of balance.

After each challenge the boys talked about their structures.  They already knew that a larger base made for a stable structure.  Our challenges gave them more experience with that.  TJ was really into the challenges while MJ sort of did his own things for a while.

The next thing we did was to look at paper structures.  I had made three tubes (cylinder, triangle, square) out of cardstock.  I asked the boys to predict how many books each could support.  To the boys’ surprise the cylinder held about 6 heavy books, while the other two barely held up one. 

For those of you wondering why that is, you see it all has to do with forces.  The force of the books pushing down (their weight) ends up concentrating around the edges of the triangular and square shaped tubes.  The cylinder has no edges and the weight is evenly distributed so it can hold up more books. 

Using what we just talked about I challenged the boys to build a structure out of newsprint that was taller than our bookcase.  MJ went for a sort of straight up pole idea but found that it wasn’t stable.  TJ had a great idea to build a stable base but lost interest as it was more work.  We talked about making another challenge to build a paper structure that could hold a toy.  TJ then wanted his structure to be strong and stable.

I left the boys to keep building while I went to get the baby.  When I returned they had turned their structures into baseball bats and were playing ball in the family room.  I knew they’d learned a lot from our explorations, and was impressed with the creativity they showed.  Time for a ball game!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

You Homeschooling Stories: What to Expect When Homeschooling a Struggling Learner

I am very please to have Kim from Passionate for Home posting today. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

What to Expect When Homeschooling a Struggling Learner

Perhaps your story is similar to mine.  You began homeschooling with great optimism and visions of your child happily learning at your side.  You imagined days free of busy work, jam-packed instead with meaningful activities, field trips, and classic literature.  But somewhere along the way, you ended up with a frustrated, resistant child who would rather do anything than school work.  Or a child whose spark for learning has been nearly extinguished from the struggle they have in mastering basic academics.  Your find your own joy in teaching being drained from the constant battle.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, don’t despair.  You are not alone!

I have been homeschooling a struggling learner for nearly six years now.  The signs began to emerge near the end of Grade 1, when my previously eager student began to hate math, reading, and generally all things “school.”  Puzzled, I could not understand how this could be when he had a rich learning environment, great curriculum, and lots of personalized attention.  Nothing I read about homeschooling had prepared me for this.  Determined to find a way, I began a journey of discovery that would open my eyes to the world of the struggling learner.  It is my hope that by sharing some of my experience with you, you will be better prepared if you suspect or already know that you have a struggling learner on your hands.

Prepare for pushback.  When children struggle with learning, it often comes out in their behavior.  When you bring the learning home, the behavior unfortunately comes with it.  It can be hard not to take this personally as a parent, to not see it as just bad attitude.  Yes, there will be times of bad attitude, but if you look past the surface, you may find that your child’s behavior is actually frustration and be able to tackle the real problem.

Prepare to invest one-on-one time.  There is no way around this – a child who struggles with learning is going to need your help.  These children have a harder time staying on task, generating ideas, working through problems, and completing projects.  Giving your child extra time is challenging when you are juggling the needs of your home, other children, and outside commitments.  While the amount of extra support varies from child to child, it is important to find out what your child needs and to plan accordingly.

Prepare to encourage. As parents, we often forget how hard it is for our struggling students to face their learning challenges every day.  They need lots of encouragement to persist in the face of difficulties, and praise when they overcome.  It can be hard to remember this when your days seem to revolve around prodding them.  But by being intentional with encouragement, we can bolster our child’s self-confidence.

Prepare to go at their pace.  Forget how and when the “typical” child is supposed to learn.  This is the beauty of the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers!  Your child may not be able to work on math for 30 minutes straight.  They may only complete one work page per day instead of two.  The goal is to see them progress, and to do so at the pace that is right for them.  Putting undue pressure on a struggling learner to perform like their peers is unfair and unproductive.  Preserve your relationship and your sanity by letting go of the ideal in your head, and embrace your child’s unique needs!

Prepare to experiment until you find the right resources.  What worked for your friend or your other children may not work for your struggling child.  It takes time and patience to find what works for them, and you must give yourself permission to drop what you thought was the “perfect” curriculum.  The truth is your child may never love a subject area they struggle in, no matter what curriculum you use.  Yet you can make sure there is no additional burden by finding material that caters to your child’s learning style and strengths.  In the end, the best curriculum is the one that works for your child!

Prepare to seek outside help.  As a deeply committed parent, it was hard for me to imagine that someone else could know my son’s needs as well as I did, or find a way to reach him that I hadn’t already tried.  Now I realize that it isn’t always that they know more or better than you do, but that your child may respond to them differently.  It takes a village to raise a child, and if you are hitting a wall with your struggling learner, consider reaching out to others.  Ask for referrals, and don’t hesitate to make a switch if you feel the current situation is not working.  Most importantly, don’t overlook the benefit of input from others into your child’s learning journey.

Homeschooling my son has been one of the greatest privileges of my life so far.  It has also been one of the most difficult.  Although my journey looks different than what I had imagined, it is still filled with good things.  I can look back and see how both my son and I have grown in leaps and bounds.  Isn’t that what homeschooling is really all about?

Hi, my name is Kim, and I believe that all children can thrive when their unique gifts are nurtured.
Special thanks to Meaghan for letting me share about my passion at Joyful Mud Puddles!
You can also find me at,
where I share what I am learning about faith, family and finances.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Guest Post: 6 Natural Solutions for Chronic Pain

I am so pleased to have Nicole Akers with us today sharing all about natural pain solutions. I am always looking for alternatives to traditional medicine. Our family has benefited a lot from essential oils, so I am excited to see that on her list. I am guest posting over at her blog today, so head over there and check it out later.

6 Natural Solutions for Chronic Pain

Good morning sharp, stabbing pain. Throbbing pain over here, pins and needles over there, and a bonus migraine. Millions of Americans live in pain everyday. They dream about living happy, healthy productive lives, but are met with chronic pain, and grasp for solutions.

Experts say 110 million Americans live in chronic pain, 24.4 deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and over 5 million suffer from Fibromyalgia daily.

If you fit into one of these categories the pain is real. It isn’t in your head. Life is a real daily battle.

Let’s define the terms, and look at possible solutions:

Chronic pain: Chronic pain is any pain that lasts for more than three months. The pain can become progressively worse and re-occur intermittently, outlasting the usual healing process. After injured tissue heals, pain is expected to stop once the underlying cause is treated, according to conventional ideas of pain.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: a psychological reaction occurring after experiencing a highly stressing event (as wartime combat, physical violence, or a natural disaster) that is usually characterized by depression, anxiety, flashbacks, recurrent nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the event —abbreviation PTSD —called also post-traumatic stress syndrome

Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Okay we’ve defined the terms, but a little more info, if you please

A little something more:
Chronic pain means it lasts a long time, at least three months. It can be a headache, sinus pain, back, neck or joint pain. Maybe it is arthritis, a leg injury that never healed, or a ghost pain from surgery. The cause is not always visible. A broken leg is determined with an x-ray, but chronic pain may not have a determining factor. The pain commonly causes the afflicted area to get less use, thereby worsening the condition.

Post traumatic stress disorder is common among those who have experienced a trauma that has threatened your safety. First responders who witnessed an event and responded to it, or those in military combat may be at risk. The results are broad, but include feelings of anxiety or fear, hopelessness, and reliving the event.

Fibromyalgia is popular in women, but men can have it too. It involves tender points spread out over the body, that cause pain, fatigue, loss of memory, and confusion.  The largest target population is middle-aged people, and this group is often in pain for years sense there is no clear road map to diagnosis.

Now we have more detail about the culprits, let’s look at getting some relief. The most common inclination is to reach for ibuprofen or other pain relief, but let’s look at solutions that don’t come in a pill bottle.

Natural Solutions:
  1. Reduce stress with deep breathing or meditation
  2. Get a massage
  3. Exercise
  4. Diet
  5. Acupuncture
  6. Essential Oils

Stress can trigger all sorts of health problems, including pain. Breathing can help. Block out distractions and practice filling up the abdomen with air, then deflating it like a balloon. If meditation is new and you’d like a trial to experience relaxation, give Headspace a try.

Get a massage to relieve muscle stress and tension of chronic pain. Research is inconclusive on benefits of massage on anxiety and digestive disorders.

Exercise releases endorphins, which block pain while strengthening muscles and preventing further injury. Ask your doctor for the right routine to best benefit your health.

Diet can aid as a natural remedy. Willow Bark can ease inflammation and carries components similar to aspirin. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color and is a natural pain reliever used to combat ulcers and upset stomach. Cloves add spice to meet, but also combat nausea, colds and toothaches. Consider diet first for minor aches.

Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese practice seeking to balance the body’s pathways by inserting needles into the skin. It may release serotonin, a chemical that reduces chronic pain.

Essential oils are are plant components designed to heal and are not to be ingested. They are applied topically, in miniscule amounts, or diluted. Tea Tree can treat funguses and blemishes. Oregano has antibacterial qualities to fight colds and other sicknesses. Eucalyptus is great for chronic cold and allergy sufferers.  

Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong. It may be something as simple as a strained muscle, or more complex, needing professional medical treatment. Don’t hesitate to seek a doctor’s diagnosis and discuss the most natural solutions to remedy your pain.

Like this post? Nicole welcomes followers of her blog, on LinkedIn Nicole Akers, Twitter@Nicole Akers10, or on Medium.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Happy Easter

I just wanted to send my very best Happy Easter wishes to everyone.  Thank you for following our journey and reading my blog.

You will notice that I have had some amazing guest posts recently.  Do go visit their blogs, I know you'll be inspired.  I have two more guests next week and others to follow.  I'm also posting elsewhere too these days.  What an exciting opportunity!  Thank you to everyone who has contributed.

I have been working on updating this blog a little, you'll notice a few changes.  Some my even have received some blank test emails (sorry about that).  But I'm getting it all smoothed out.  I hope you'll all sign up for my weekly newsletter.  When you do you'll receive a free guide on ways to remain calm when children are pushing your buttons and you are about to flip out!

Finally, please keep baby JJ in your thoughts.  He had an allergic reaction to something this weekend (hence no blog posts from me this week).  It appeared as a full body skin rash, so his breathing is fine but he is rather itchy and uncomfortable.  The problem is that I'm not sure what set it off.  We are going back to basics with him and hope that it doesn't happen again,

Many blessings to you all.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Guest Post: Firm Like Jello

I met Joy Bailey from Scraps of Joy through the Blog Like a Pro Challenge. I am so grateful that she is sharing this awesome parenting post to share with us.

Firm Like Jello
I recently had a young mom ask me which parenting books helped me parent our 3 daughters over the years. The truth is, I didn’t read parenting books. At least, not all the way to the end. I began reading 2 highly recommended and popular parenting books of that time but before getting too far into them I was disappointed. I found them too … generalized.
“Child will do this and this by such and such an age. When child does this, you as his parent must do this.”
They didn’t take into account that each child is as unique and individual as the fingerprints they bear. And that was what fascinated me about parenting: the fact that each daughter was so very different from her sister. How three girls conceived by the same father and mother could be so unlike one another blew my mind.
One time, my husband and I did decide to use the suggestion of one of the parenting books I had just begun. It said that, when disciplining, we should let the child choose her own punishment.

Sweetie and Peaches (not their real names) were 5 and 3 at the time. I don’t remember their crime but we brought them before us and told them they needed to choose a punishment for what they had done. 
Sweetie thought for less than 2 seconds and then announced, “I think I should go to my room for one hour.” 
Ah yes, her room. Where all of her favourite toys and, especially, her paper and pencil crayons were. She loved to draw. 
Clever girl. 
But that was the punishment she had chosen and so we sent her to her room.
Then we looked at 3 year old Peaches.

“Well Peaches, what do you think your punishment should be?”

She looked up at us with her big solemn eyes and, imagining the worst possible punishment, said, “Pour boiling water on me.” (blink blink)

At this point hubby looked over at me and said, “I don’t think this is working.” (Of course we gave her a more reasonable punishment chosen by us.)
Sweetie and Peaches
There were, however, 2 books I did read all the way to the end that I found interesting and helpful. But I wouldn’t call them parenting books. They were more what I’d call getting-to-know-your-child books.
The first one was The Birth Order Book” by Dr. Kevin Leman. You can still find it on Amazon, at Chapters/Indigo, and Barnes & Noble. It is still receiving 4.5 stars out of 5.
I don’t recall the title of the other book and I’m sure it is out of print, but it used the Myers Briggs method for determining personality types in a child.
There are lots of new books and websites that deal with personality types in children. Here is an interesting one: From Kidzmet
The point is that, rather than lump all children in the same bag, I worked with each daughter according to her own individual personality. What worked with one child didn’t work with the other, etc.
I read and learned about what the basic personality types were and what I could expect from birth order. Then I watched my children and learned who they were. It would be rare for anyone to exactly fit a personality profile. So, it was a matter of being always aware and constantly seeking understanding for why they did the things they did, and then following through accordingly.
Kind of like jello, the basic rules of life and family boundaries were firm, but able to take the particular shape of whatever the moment required.  

Never touch a hot stove. 


In our family, we work before we play … but sometimes turning work into play gets the job done in a fun and happy way.
It was a tricky dance and sometimes jiggly, like jello.
Through it all, my mainstay was prayer. Prayer for my husband and me - for wisdom and guidance, strength and patience as we parented. Prayer for the girls – that they would grow up strong of spirit and of body, and that they would be the best of friends always.
Our oldest turns 30 in a month and it delights me to watch her and her husband parent their own strong-willed son. Many times I am taken back to when she was his age and fighting for her right to be heard. And it dawns on me that by listening to them and being aware of who they were and who they were becoming, they taught me how to parent them.
This article was originally posted at The Koala Mom
Photo Credit: Jak, Regal Princess
Joy Bailey writes because. What began as making up childhood stories to put herself to sleep at night, became creating stories and songs for her three daughters. This entertainment morphed into writing articles and stories for children’s publications, writing rhymes for her grandson, and blogging at . Her current work in progress is a novel about a wandering little girl and her flawed but loving mother. Joy and her husband live in Edmonton, Alberta, and are enjoying their recent transition to empty nesting.

Friday, 18 March 2016

What is Joyful Mud Puddles all about?

Joyful Mud Puddles

How did I come up with that name? What is the blog (essentially what am I) all about? Why do I write?

It's all about JOY.

I'm not talking about feeling happy, being successful, or anything like that.  Those feelings come and go.  Life is all about ups and downs.  Joy is intentional. It is about finding something good, some flicker of hope, in all that life brings you.

Right now my life is busy to say the least.  It is all about raising three boys, homeschooling, running our family business and all the while trying not to loose 'me' in the midst of it all.  My faith keeps me going.  I have a God who has been through it all, who loves me so much and understands how much I need Him.  I choose to daily find joy in the life that I have right in this moment. 

I write because of the overflow that is in my heart. Some days are messy and weary.  Some days are amazingly awesome.  My favourite days are the simple ones in which we spend time together just enjoying each other.  I just want to share those days with someone (that is you!!).  I hope that in being completely honest in my writing it might help or bring joy to someone else.  

What better way to describe life with three boys that a mud puddle.  My boys are full of life (anyone who knows us can attest to that).  I passionately believe that children should enjoy their childhood.  It is so short and the rest of life is so much longer.  What better picture can you imagine than children leaping about without a care in the world, splashing in a puddle? My boys are usually outside getting dirty while all the other children are in a desk in school. It fills me with such overwhelming joy that I can help but shout it out to the world!

And so I am here to advocate for children, and in doing so for myself also.  Life a life of JOY.  Don't let others hold you back.  Think before you conform and do what everyone has always done. Find the good blessings that this day has to offer.  And be confident (and childish enough) to go jump in some mud puddles for the fun of it!

I would love for you to follow us on

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Gaining Confidence at the playground

Earlier in the month we went to a playground (yup thats the last of the snow in the photos). Part way through I began consciously trying to observe the boys.  I found it all rather interesting and decided to write it down.

The first time the boys attempted the climber, MJ made it up a few rungs and then called for help.  He was too afraid to climb up so I guided him back down. He watched his brother climb to the top and drop down the centre a few times, then asked for my help again.  This time MJ climbed to the top as I held him and helped him jump down.  After a few more times I had to attend to the baby.  MJ said to me, "It's okay I'm not scared anymore.  I feel brave inside."  Then he went off and climbed by himself with a huge smile on his face.

Bravely climbing

Slides are always fun.  More fun to climb up or go down in silly ways.  The boys wanted to go down head first.  Being a cautious, safety minded mom I said no, but they could go feet first on their back or stomach.  Disappointed and bored the boys were not pleased. I gave it some thought and came back to actually discuss this with the boys.  Why did I need to jump into an automatic no answer.  We talked about how those types of rules are mostly to protect younger children and to be a good role model for them.  Since we were basically alone in the park I could also stand at the bottom of the slide to catch the boys as they experimented with different ways to go down. The boys had a great time.  At first they were nervous, then silly and brave.  We took funny videos and pictures.  We noticed one slide was much faster than the other.  The boys were also thrilled to hold their baby brother so he could enjoy the fun too.  That little baby is so lucky to have two big brothers who love him so much.

On the swings the boys were having fun jumping off.  TJ asked me to take some slow motion videos of his landing.  Of course MJ wanted a video too.  He slipped on landing and fell.  I noticed the boys analyzing the videos and discussing the difference between the two landings.  TJ took time to demonstrate how he lands to his brother.  They asked me to push MJ again so he could try again.  This time he landed much better after his jump.

We also did some other things at the park too.  MJ played with other children.  TJ excitedly read some sign.  We all enjoyed the sun, fresh air and activity.  Mostly I was struck by how much confidence the boys gained from their play.  I didn't set out to purposely help them, but by simply being available it made them feel safe enough to explore and test their limits.

 Come check out our Facebook page for awesome videos of the boys at the park.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Your Homeschool Stories: How Do I Do It All?

I am very excited to share another guest post in our series Your Homeschool Stories.  Today Melissa shares with us how she manages homeschool, work and be a single mom.  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
​Hi! I'm Melissa over at Single Mom Unschooling. People often wonder how they can homeschool, let alone do it as a single parent, while working. I thought I'd share what has worked for me.
My son is now nearly eight years old and he has always come to work with me. I've chosen to work as a nanny because it's a vocation that allows for that kind of flexibility. When he was three weeks old I went back to work, wearing him in a wrap and nursing him as needed, while caring for the family's three children. It wasn't easy. I was a new mom and juggling all the new mom stuff and managing their household and mine were exhausting. I was just grateful to have employment that allowed me to be with my baby, always.

Since then, I've worked for several other families who were understanding of my desire to care for my son while working to support us. It was certainly easier, while my son was of pre-school age for potential employers to be accommodating. Now that he's of "school" age, when I tell people that we homeschool, they often balk at considering my services. How could I possibly do my job and teach my son? Surely I would need to neglect some of my duties to give my son the attention he needs. These are their concerns. I've overcome them.
The method of homeschooling that I found to make the most sense, as my baby was growing, was unschooling. He's always been very active and relentlessly curious. We can learn anything that interests him on the fly and through the course of our varied days. Having work schedules that often included shuttling children around to activities, we've had to adapt a great deal of flexibility. Often, I could be seen carrying a large bag of books, games and other materials with me everywhere we went. Always being prepared for whichever circumstances we find ourselves in, has helped a great deal.
So, work just became a part of our everyday lives together. As a little one, my son was just happy to be with me, wherever we were that day. The older he gets, the less he enjoys the "have to" of heading to a job every day. It has the side benefit of built in playmates, which has helped. The things I was doing at work were mostly mom things anyway; dishes, laundry, tidying, a natural extension of what I did at home. It just felt like the natural order of things for him, until recently.
People often wonder how I could do all the same things at work and then come home and do them again. To be honest there are days I don't. There are days I get home and put a bowl of cereal in front of my son and do nothing else but spend time with him until bed. I have been superwoman for years and I've gotten better at it. You don't always have to do everything. Those dishes will still be there. It's exhausting being the only one doing everything. You can rest. 
When my son was little, I'd do all of the chores while he was sleeping. That way I had all his waking hours to be more attentive to him. Somewhere along the way I realized that if I kept that up, he would come to believe that some magical cleaning fairies visited while you slept and cleaned your house. As a toddler, he could begin to help with some of those tasks anyway. So, we both grew and learned.
Currently, I wake before he does in the morning and have my coffee, tend to some of the chores, have some time to myself and just enjoy the stillness. I'm a pretty quiet, introverted person and this time is more of a need for me so I make it happen. 
Often I go through articles I've bookmarked, print out games or activities that I think will be of interest to my son and clear away the activities from the previous day to make room for what we'll do today. I don't plan things per se. What interests my son and what he wants to do or work on for each day is up to him. I provide ideas, materials and am there to facilitate. This is my roll, regardless of where we are on any given day. If he needs me, he'll ask, if he doesn't he'll independently work at something until he's ready to move on. 
I'm writing this during my "me time" and it's time for a coffee refill. Writing  this may have raised more questions than it answered but I appreciate the opportunity to write a guest post. You can always dig deeper into how we do things, by visiting my blog. I welcome questions and I love talking to people about our unique journey. 
About Melissa
I’m a forty year old mom to an amazing seven year old boy. We’ve unschooled since day one. I work as a nanny so that I can make a living as well as spend my days with my son. My favorite things to do are cook, garden, be outdoors, paint, read, and write. Come visit Single Mom Unschooling.

Friday, 11 March 2016

A Joyful Day

Here at Joyful Mud Puddles we are all about finding joy in everyday life.  Yesterday was just an ordinary joy filled day.  One I wanted to remember always.

We made a slight change to our regular rhythm.  The boys had been missing the stories I used to tell, so I added that back in along with a bit more structure to the day just to see how things would go.  I realized (I knew it but needed the reminder) that mommy needs to hold the space to keep things together during the day.

After breakfast the boys played Playmobil together while I cared for baby. Their game came to an end while I was working on some puzzle books (search and find, decoding, brain teasers etc). The boys jumped in and took over with that. While baby was a sleep I did some planing. Then the boys came out for a snack and joined me as I read Sleeping Beauty.  We chatted for a bit and then they started to be loud and wrestle, then fight.  I tried to stop them and give them some choices on what to do... clearly that didn't work, so I got dressed and went outside.  Within five minutes the boys dressed themselves and joined me.

Decorating for Spring

MJ went straight to the back yard to dig trenches in the gravel where the patio used to be.  TJ hunted around for something to do.  He pulled some weeds and inspected his gardens.  We started to rake away he leaves only to discover new shoots poking through.  Oh the squeals of delight as they went from plant to plant looking for signs on life.  I wish I could have had a video of those delightful moments.

We came in to warm up, have lunch and play.  The boys noticed that I had put out or spring decorations so they got to work making our nature table look fabulous.  They even added treasures from their bedrooms. After lunch they played Wii while I took a break.

Boys digging trenches in the rain

Later in the afternoon I got out some blank journals and crayons, then started to draw a picture to remember the story.  Both boys decided to join in and we all discussed our favourite parts.  Tomorrow we will write a summary for our pictures.  TJ was excited about his journal and can't wait to add more about what we are learning.  MJ expanded his drawings from only tractors to illustrating the whole of Sleeping Beauty!

Every time there is a lull in the action my boys tend to bug each other and it often leads to a fight.  Baby JJ and I went outside to explore.  Again the boys hurried to play in the rain again.  They both worked on digging trenches, this time with the hose for a water source.  This was the first time JJ was down on the ground exploring.  He seemed to like the feel of grass.  He enjoyed holding sticks and watching what was going on.  Of course he kept making a bee-line over to where his brothers were.

Baby JJ exploring outside

JJ and I went inside again and saw the boys spraying each other with the hose and filling their boots with water.  I love my fun crazy boys!! Daddy got to hear about all our fun when he got home.

After dinner, we decided to start evening TV time earlier so that we'd have time for a story before bed.  We all missed that special time together.  Bed as usual and thankful prayers for a lovely day together.

 What have you been doing today?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

My Son Wrote a Story

We were at my parent's house the other day.  My mom brought out a big box of all the old cards, stories, poems etc. my sisters and I had written when we were little girls.  The next day when there was a lull in the action I asked the boys if they wanted to write a story with me.  MJ drew some pictures and asked me to add words.  TJ started to dictate a story for me to write.  This story is basically what he told me to write.  I asked a few questions along the way for clarification and to expand on details. He has given me permission to reprint it here for you.

Sir Castleot

Once upon a time there was a knight.  Sir Castleot had to do three challenges.
1. Winning a basketball game.
2. Learning about the moon.
3. Winning a war.
He had to complete these challenges in order to become a real knight.

Sir Castleot felt confident about winning the basketball game. He thought learning about the moon might be cool. But he was a little bit nervous about the war since he had never done anything like that before.

On the night before the big basketball game Sir Castelot slept with his basketball. When he woke up it was still there. He arrived early at the court then everybody arrived. He was on team knight. The others were on team snake. Each basket counted as two points. The Knights got one basket. The Snakes got two baskets, so the score was 2-4. The Knights got two more baskets and won the game. The final score was 6-4. Sir Castleot felt really good and proud inside for winning the first challenge.

The next day he got into the spaceship and went off to the moon. Sir Castleot got off the spaceship and floated around the moon for a bit. He saw something. It looked like a little spot on the ground, but it was a crater. He got stuck for a minute but then got out. He slept in the spaceship for one night and then went home the next day.

Sir Castleot presented what be learned to the people. He learned that the moon had no atmosphere, no wind or rain or anything like that. The reason he knew that was because he found footprints that weren't his. He saw that they were from the first astronauts to visit the moon on a different year from him.  He also learned that astroids make craters in the moon.  He knew this because he saw one hit some flat ground a little ways off.

Back home he had two days before the war. He could practice, rest, or do whatever he wanted. And he decided to spend hi time not resting or getting ready, but practicing. He wanted to practice so he could win the war, so he did sword fighting. On the night before the war he decided to sleep with his armour next to his bed. He also slept with his clothes on so he would be ready for the next day.

He heard something about a one-on-one sword fight.  That explains exactly why he decided to spend his time practicing sword fighting. Sir Castleot went to the place where he would sword fight early because he lived so far away. hen he got there all his friends where there to cheer him on. Sir Castleot's opponent had just spent his time doing the same challenges.  He was just as nervous as Sir Castleot was about the sword fight. They had no idea that they were both trying to become knights.

The sword fight began. Sir Castleot banged his opponent over to the edge. But just then his opponent got a good whack at Sir Castleot and they both ended up in the middle. Sir Castleot's opponent smacked Sir Castleot to the edge. Then just as he thought all was lost he got a good whack at his opponent's tummy. He got him twice like that and got him to the edge. The two men were fighting with cylinder swords with rounded tops and wore armour so they wouldn't get hurt. When the opponent raised his sword over his head, Sir Castleot shoved his own sword right into the opponent's stomach and shoved him off the wooden board into the water.

Sir Castelot had won. His opponent, Bob, had lost. He was tired but very proud of himself for doing the challenges. they had a big ceremony. Sir Castleot was given his own sword, shield and armour by War King. He went off to win more battles.

The End

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Your Homeschool Stories: Learning to Trust the Process

Today we have our first guest post for our new series Your Homeschooling Stories. Natasha Allan is hoping to get her own blog going called Letters For Lem.  I know I'll be following her journey, and you will want to as well once you read her post. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Learning to Trust the Process

Pipe cleaner and straw letters & numbers.
When our daughter was born 4 years ago I had never heard of Unschooling. It wasn’t too long though that I was knee deep in the Unschooling online world, which seemed a natural progression from Attachment Parenting (another term and concept I learned about after my daughter was born). It seemed many who were in the Unschooling community subscribed to Attachment Parenting philosophies when their children were infants, leading to Unschooling as their children grew.

Unschooling immediately rang true to me. It made complete sense. Children will learn when ready, at their own pace, when they are interested in a subject matter (and really, they’re always learning but I digress). Trusting your child learns this way and not dependent upon a curriculum is key.

It can be scary, trusting that your child will just learn how to write without you sitting them down for hours a day reviewing the alphabet. Will they ever be able to read or write if I don’t quiz them, make them follow lessons? Stand over them while they work? Force them to complete exercises? These are the questions, fears that pop in and out. I allow them, then I let them go as quickly as they showed up.

If anything I’m learning how to trust the process. Her process. I am learning to let go of my need to control; of my need to figure things out, to have an outcome in mind. I’m learning to put her needs before mine, to allow her the space required to play and learn.

I’ve caught myself trying to orchestrate learning and found myself frustrated that she wasn’t interested enough in what I was showing her. It was during those moments I realized my frustration belonged to me and wasn’t a result of how she was or wasn’t responding.

Let me take you back about a year or so to when my daughter was 2.5/3 yrs old. I noticed more and more that she was interested in talking about letters and numbers. Every once in a while she’d ask, “what’s that?” and I’d say E for Evie (her cousins name) or J for Jason (her uncles name). She’d take stickers with a letter on it, place it somewhere and ask what it was. It was casual. It was here and there. As the months went by she’d point out E when we were out and about and say E for Evie! This progressed to more letters, and numbers.
Using pipe cleaners and straws to write her name. No one prompted or helped with this creation.
About 6 months ago I realized there was something different about how she was processing things so I bought some wipe clean alphabet andnumber books where she could trace letters and numbers. They’re great books, fun and easy going ~ she loves them. She traces letters, draws on the page and has fun. No pressure, no instructions, just fun. Around the same time I had also read a blog belonging to a fellow Unschooler where she discussed how her son was picking up writing, mentioning a few apps he loves ~ I immediately downloaded them to my daughters iPhone (our old 4). Up until that point the only games she had played were from Sago Sago. She opened her iPhone and started playing. She was immediately taken. She loved them from the word go. She was learning and having fun, a lot of fun. Fast forward a few months and she’s now writing her name. She has become so interested in writing she’ll write letters using straws and pipe cleaners on the counter. She throws them together to create an A, switches them slightly and creates an H. Writes a P flips it and sees the b. Then she writes her name. She loves it. Her face lights up with such pride. She is doing it. Her impulse is to create the letters for her, no one else.
Wipe clean alphabet book fun.
I noticed something interesting when we first got her wipe clean books. The letters have large dots leading to an arrow and a second smaller dot leading to another arrow to show where pen strokes are to go. I remember sitting down with my daughter one day when she had pulled the book off the shelf. I noticed these dots and arrows and said, “Hey, cool! Look at this, this large dot is…” she didn’t care. She didn’t want to hear it. She just wanted to trace the letters and scribble in the book. The more I tried to show her the awesomeness of these dots and arrows the more she shut me out. I became frustrated, how could she not want to know about these dots? Or the direction her marker is supposed to go! Then I realized it’s more for me than her. I was insisting she listen so I could feel I was ‘doing something’ to help her in this process. I was trying to validate my role by ‘showing her’ something. It wasn’t for her. She was already into the book. She was already right in there, doing and learning. That was the moment I realized much of what I do for her is really for me to feel like I am doing enough, showing enough, involved enough. I didn’t trust her process or that she was going to pick up on the dots and arrows her self, when ready, if she needed to at all.

It seems like the magic combo for her, these apps and books. It seems like the perfect time. She is picking things up quicker than I imagined it would happen. It’s as if over night she has become a letter master. And she has. Because it's the right time for her, in her own way, her own pace and because she is 100% into it.

I’m learning to trust the process. Even though up until this point I’ve witnessed hundreds of things she has learned without my tutelage whatsoever. Crawling, walking, speaking… all these and more she has learned at her own pace, when ready. I knew she would, I didn’t interfere. I didn’t do tummy time. I didn’t assist her when making her way up or down stairs. I spotted her of course but, I never showed her how. I didn’t show her how to put on her underwear and I didn’t potty train her. I didn’t sleep train or show her how to hold a fork. I trusted these things would happen when she was ready, and they have. When she accomplishes something new she becomes overjoyed. It’s for her that she does these things, not for me, not for my approval. She accomplishes new challenges and I see it affect her, her confidence blossoms.

I suppose it’s challenging as a parent to trust the process as our children grow older beyond crawling/walking/talking because Unschooling for most is a brand new concept ~ despite families having been living this way for decades now. It’s still just reaching the surface of mainstream consciousness. I suppose it’s also a shift in thinking because it’s just a given for most, they go to school to learn. “How else will they learn history or geography? Of course they go to school, why wouldn’t they?” A shift in perspective; trusting a persons’ innate ability to learn and grow without the use of modern standardized schooling.

Learning to trust the process is as much about my growth as it is my daughters.


About Natasha

My family and I recently relocated to a small town in Eastern Ontario leaving the hustle and bustle of Toronto behind. Yearning for calm and nature we now live on 3 beautiful acres. Vast landscapes by day and millions of shining stars by night, our dream has come true. 

Before being called Mama, I was a film actor. The craft calls to me which I will once again answer although the answer might come from the other side of the camera this time around. For now I'm enjoying this amazing, challenging ride called parenthood and the incredible journey of unschooling. *Also I'm is trying to convince my husband that our land ought to be used for a small sanctuary for abused and neglected animals.*