Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fact 252

It’s a fact that you can’t trust everything you read.

Disney Junior Fun Facts To Understand Our World

Whether on the internet, in the newspaper, a magazine, or a book, we need to question the information handed to us. As parents, our relationship with our children involves some leading, and a lot of following. We strew different topics through our children’s lives and wait to see what catches their interest, then we follow along for the ride ready with something new when, and if, their interest wanes. They might not find a certain topic particularly interesting, while a different one catches their fancy. The first topic gets tucked away for a different day, while we seek out more information on the topic they’re eager to learn about.

Encyclopedia’s and other such books are great resources for strewing. So many different topics to pique someone’s interest in one place. However, it’s important for parents to have either a passing knowledge about the subject matter, or double (triple) check every resource. Otherwise we could inadvertently lead our children to false information.

The page pictured above came from a book Ella got for her birthday. Can you see what’s wrong with it? There are many people who might not see what’s wrong. Their children in turn also won’t know the information’s incorrect. Is it a major cause for concern? With this specific error, no. However, some incorrect information could lead to any number of problems depending on the information. As a nurse it’s important the information I use to influence my practice is accurate and from reliable sources. Neither life nor death is on the line when it comes to children’s books, but teaching our children young to be discerning readers will help them later in life.

This doesn’t mean we need to know everything in order to guide our children’s education (teachers certainly don’t) however it does mean there are certain things parents should do to ensure their children get accurate information. First read everything either before your child gets it, or with them. With young children (i.e. not reading yet) you can change the words to reflect the real information. As children get older you can point out the inaccuracy and find the real information together. It becomes a learning moment.

Unfortunately there’s also the possibility that a trusted source, a source that should provide accurate information, makes a mistake. For instance the Disney Press company is usually pretty good about providing accurate, if brief, information. This book in particular also has a list of respected individuals that vetted the book prior to publication. Though none of them seem to have any particular geographical knowledge. Otherwise one of them might have noticed that Newfoundland is not, in fact, a country. Of course the information about glaciers is correct (I hope).

One last thought. Just because the book is about one topic, glaciers for instance, doesn’t mean there isn’t valuable information about other topics. A short paragraph about glaciers also gave information about the geography of our planet. No subject stands alone.


Leave a comment

Filed under unschooling


playing with light

A few days ago I pulled the SD card out of Ella’s camera and found a full years worth of pictures on it. Some of the memories were bitter-sweet, but mostly we laughed as we saw the world through Ella’s eyes. We found tons of photos of everyone’s knees and butts. We also found tons of self portraits of her making silly faces into the camera. Her sisters featured prominently as did the television. The clarity of her shots improved noticeably over the course of the year, as did her ability to line up the shot. I’m amazed at the creative eye she has for choosing what to photograph. I can hardly wait to see what the next year brings.

more light







If you can’t see it, it’s a knight. There’s even a head with eyes. She set the shot up, then photographed it.


She took many pictures of the trees, this wasn’t necessarily the ‘best’ but I could just see her wanting to get a shot of the trees as they looked when she rolled down the hill.

her favorite subject

Her baby sister doesn’t sit still. Elle would pick Cordelia up and bring her back to the other end of the room and quickly race back to her camera to try to get the shot lined up and taken. It actually only took three tries before she got it. After looking at a years worth of pictures from her perspective I feel as though I know her better, I also have a better idea of just how small our big girl really is. If she didn’t already have a camera, I’d race out and get her one. Instead, I’ll encourage more use and see what she comes up with next.


Filed under Stories, Uncategorized

Now That You’re Unschooling, Whatcha Gonna Do Next?

I’m absolutely certain the path we’re on is the right one. However, I also believe it’s our responsibility as parents to make sure we’re still on the proper path. Did we miss a turn somewhere? Has something obscured the road making it difficult to see?

I know many homeschoolers follow a curriculum. Even at four or five years old their children sit at tables and work. The parents choose the subjects the children must study before playing. Sometimes, I envy the organization involved, but I know that’s not for us. I can barely keep my kitchen clean without going nuts. There’s no way I could teach a set lesson every day without driving everyone batty.

Instead, right now we just live life. We’re focusing most of our attention on certain experiences and ideas. Preparing the girls for something we have coming up soon. But it’s a surprise so we’re being sneaky about it. We’re not telling them why we’re looking at the youtube videos or watching that movie or this one. We’re doing a lot of talking right now. I can certainly see with this one subject, that’s so important to Ryan and I, exactly how unschooling should be done. Watch a movie, read a book, follow-up with a short video, play a game here or there, talk about the topic – “what did you think about…”, “Wow, I thought that was pretty scary. I like the way they did X, Y, Z”.

The important point to get out of this is that we know what it looks like to have a rich experience with a topic, and make sure we take the same level of passion into the subjects the girls choose, not just the ones we deem ‘worthy’. Luckily the girls love the current subject as much as we do so they jump right in and ask a dozen questions and have many suggestions for what to look at next.





1 Comment

Filed under unschooling

A Bully to be Respected

Every minute of every day we spend with our children is a teaching moment. Some days provide ‘better’ lessons than others. Some days I wish I could erase the lessons learned and teach better ones. Other days I’m not sure what I taught or how I could have taught better.

Ella takes gymnastics one morning a week. Agatha HATES dropping Ella off. In fact (she says) she hates the entire building. But this past week, we dropped Ella off, Agatha wanted to stay and watch. So we did, but then I realized I forgot Cordelia’s coat (and we needed it when it was time to walk to the library) so we ran out to grab it. When we returned there was a woman sitting on one of the chairs we’d been sitting in before running outside. She had her back turned to a baby in a baby in a bumbo seat (roughly 4.5 ft off the ground). In front of the chairs was a narrow counter and a large viewing window. There were two other people sitting at the window with three seats available. On the far side of the woman and baby, behind a door, stood one chair with just enough space for one small person. The baby in the bumbo was in front of this chair, and a coat hung over the back. The other two were right in the middle, purses adorned the counter in front of them. Someone even sat in the least desirable spot in the entire room. The bench beside the purple Christmas tree. Even if the bench had been free, and she’d stood on it, Agatha wouldn’t have been able to see Ella. Oh and at this point Cordelia was crying because she was hungry and tired.

So we entered the room, and Agatha climbed up on one chair (bar stool), and I sat on the one beside her and started to feed Cordelia. The woman with the baby in the bumbo looked down at Agatha – did not look at me – and told Agatha “I think someone’s sitting there. There’s a purse on the counter. She probably just went to the bathroom. You can find somewhere else to sit.”

Agatha said, “I was here before, I just got Cordy’s coat. I want to see Ella in class.”

Woman: “I’m sure the woman wants to watch too, you can go sit somewhere else.”

Still the woman didn’t look at me, or say anything to me. But at that moment the women whose seats we ‘stole’ returned from the bathroom (or wherever they were). The three women all conferred, then the one woman leaned over me, bumping me, to get at her purse. I will point out that there was plenty of space between the chairs so she could have stepped up without touching anyone, and her purse was not on the other side of me. In other words, as far as I can see, this woman purposefully ‘bumped’ me. She did this three more times over the span of the three minutes we were actually sitting in the chairs.

Each time she bumped me, the other one bumped Agatha. Then one of the three loudly said, “Can you believe that? They won’t move.” And glare at us.

First, the women at any given time should have actually said something to ME, not the three-year old. Second, they’re full-grown 30+ year-old women they could have been mature enough to stand for the three minutes it took Agatha to locate her sister and be happy, and for me to latch Cordelia on. Third, they should never have touched either one of us.

I felt horrible. Not because we sat in someone else’s seat, but because of how they behaved toward us. It felt like middle school all over again. If we don’t overtly do anything really mean, we won’t get in trouble, but we’re gonna do everything we can to make her miserable.

After Cordelia settled enough for  me to stand up, I did. I leaned down to Agatha and told her, “It seems it’s very important to these ladies that they sit down on these chairs. We’ve finished what we needed to do, how about we go play with the toys?” She agreed, we moved. All total, from sitting down to getting up, we might have been in the chairs for five minutes, probably less.

I didn’t want to allow those women to bully us out of the seats, but at the same time I no longer needed a seat, and Agatha had yet to realize anything was amiss. I didn’t want her to. Also by letting her know someone else wanted the seats, she had the opportunity to choose to share. She happily did so. Our children watch us at all times. They see how we treat others. They hear when and how we talk to others.

What do you want to teach your children?

At what point is it bullying, at what point is it just a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion, a meeting of opposite views? When I realized the other women wanted those chairs, viewed them as theirs, I could have asked their permission to use them briefly. I could have told Agatha not to sit there. I could have balanced Cordelia, and nursed her standing up. Those actions would have been ‘respectful’ to the other women. It would have been polite. We want our children to be respectful and polite. Don’t we?

Respect: Noun: A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or    achievements.

Verb: To admire deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Polite:  1.Having or showing respectful behaviour.                                                                                                                                              2.Of or relating to people who regard themselves as more refined than others.

Should I have been respectful and polite? Did any of the women have a greater ‘right’ to the chairs than we did? Possibly. Their purses were close to the chairs. What would Agatha had learned if I hadn’t sat down? Possibly that others are more deserving than we are. We should stand, be uncomfortable, while others have the opportunity to sit. And empty chairs are not ours to use, no matter how brief. She might have learned that even though the chairs were empty, we didn’t take them because someone else was planning to use them. She would have learned a polite way to behave in society.

What would those other women teach watching children? If you don’t get your way, push others around. If someone has something you want, take it away. If you don’t like someone’s behaviour, don’t bother talking to them, instead whisper hurtful words behind their backs.

I’m not saying I was ‘right’ to sit down when I knew the other women believed the chairs were theirs, however I’m not really sure how else to have approached the situation. There were two paths. Either sit down, or stay standing. Was there a better path? Which one? Why?

There were seven seats at the window and three benches along the wall. Two benches had bins on them, one bench was taken.  Was it wrong for Agatha and I to use the seats, considering there were purses on the counter near them, and there were no other seats? When there’s limited seating, should you save a seat if you’re not actually there?

What would you have done, if this was you? Would you have moved, or remained seated?

Leave a comment

Filed under Parenting

Realizing Science

Motion: A change in the position of an object in relation to time.

Velocity: Speed in a given direction

Displacement: The shortest distance from the initial to the final position of a point. Or the volume or weight of fluid displaced by a floating body of equal weight.

Acceleration: The rate of change of velocity over time; or an increase in speed.

Time: A measuring system used to sequence events.

Consistency: A degree of density, firmness, viscosity.

Our life provides endless opportunities to learn about the way our world works. From the moment Ella/Agatha wakes up in the morning (time), until she goes to bed at night, she’s in constant motion. At times she merely wiggles while she sits and reads a book, or watches a show(velocity). At other times she jumps up and races around the house (acceleration), only to slow down (deceleration) long enough to grab a bite to eat. She might be sitting at the table and need a glass of water from the counter, but instead of taking the shortest possible route, she first runs to the living room, then passed the front door, throughout the pantry, and back in to the kitchen to get the water that had been only 3 feet away from her in the first place (displacement).

As she’s drinking her water, she drops an ice-cube into it. Then she might spy a strawberry and decide to drop that in as well. After each addition she tastes it and observes for changes in colour and consistency. With each addition she also makes note of the water level in the glass (Displacement).

Periodically she’ll make note of how dark it’s getting (Time) or reference some past or future event that has meaning to her.

Science is all a round us. We don’t need to force it on our children, but we can bring it to their attention. A few well asked questions can do more than hours of instruction in a school setting. Right now, I don’t usually mention definitions, unless it really does help the understanding or discussion, those can come with time. Once she’s explored a subject and understands it, then a definition would broaden her perspective without offering more confusion.

During the day, I may point out something to see if the girls noticed it – for instance  the water level rising with each addition to the glass. But other times I won’t bother. A lot has to do with how many times an experiment’s taken place. The first few times I won’t interfere – after all, they need to test, test, and re-test to see if they get the same result each time. However, there comes a point where I like to see if they’re actually getting anything from the mess they’re making.

“What do you think will happen when you drop the potatoes in to the glass?” Depending on the answer, I may encourage them to consider other alternatives. “Will there still be the same amount of water in the glass? Will it still be the same colour?”

“What happened when you dropped the potatoes into your milk?”

“Was that what you expected?”

“Wow, what caused your water to turn grey?”

“I filled your cup half full, that means there was as much water in the glass as empty space, so how did it get so full?”

“How did the carrots get on the ceiling?”

I don’t need to drill my children to make the lessons ‘stick’. But a few questions here and there can help broaden their world as well as lead me in new directions for fun activities for us to do together. For instance, hmm they really like mixing things together – and throwing what they mix. I can find all kinds of things to mix together cornstarch, food colouring and water – then bring them to the park and let them fling it all over – the snow will cover it up soon enough. And hopefully the carrots will remain on their plates next time.

Science is all around us. Sometimes we just need to realize it.



Filed under unschooling

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Ryan is an amazing man. He’s not perfect. There’s a thing or two that drive me nuts – but that’s not the point of this post. This post is about the wonderful man I’m married to. It’s unlikely I’d ever find someone else as wonderful for me as he is.

Over the past few years he’s spent more hours than I can count wearing one baby or another on his back. I sit and relax while he watches movies standing up.

Whether he has a baby on his back or not, hell help me clean up the kitchen. By help, I mean he cleans the kitchen while I sleep in.

Speaking of sleeping in…When he’s home, he gets up with the girls, and lets me go back to bed. Pure Bliss 🙂

He does most of the grocery shopping. Which is also saving us a ton of money. I’m the one that knows what’s in the pantry. So if I go shopping, I see something I know we’re almost out of, and I buy it. He reads my list and doesn’t even look at anything else. Thus keeping our grocery bill half the size mine would be.

He lets me have a fighting chance while playing Nintendo with him. I even beat him at Disney Universe a time or two.

He buys me flowers a few times a year, just because I like them.

Everyday, he tells me I’m beautiful and that he loves me.

He plays with our children and lets them help him cook. When our backyard turned into a lake one rainy day, he took the girls outside with their mud suits and fishing rods and happily fished with them for several hours.

He plays with the baby as much as he plays with the big girls. He also gives me special time with Cordelia while he plays with the big girls.

He supports my desire to go to Disney World every year. And works the overtime to make it happen.

I love his smile.

He’s joined me on this crazy adventure we call parenting and he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone and try new ways of doing things just because I tell him I think it’s a good idea. Wow!

I can’t help it, I’ve compared my husband to many others and every time I come to the same conclusion – keep yours, mine’s better 😛 (said in a very teasing manner – please take no offence : ) I love Ryan and that’s as it should be).




Filed under Relationships