Tag Archives: imagination


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

Life Dreams

When embarking on the unschooling, life-learning path, a person needs to de-school. This invokes breaking away from the conventional set of wisdom that says a person needs to worry about X, Y, Z or should do Q, R, S. It means realizing certain things aren’t important after all, and other things are.

Each person, each family, will follow a different path. Some will need to de-school more than others. Some will have no trouble stepping away from certain fears, others become even more frightened at the thought of such freedom.

The questions revolve endlessly. How will children ever learn? How will they ever socialize? If no one tells them what to eat, or not to eat,t hen how will they be healthy? If they don’t have a bed time, then how will the adults ever have alone time together? The questions I ask are different than the ones you ask – and our answers will be different as well.

Because my family, my background aren’t yours.

Most of the time I don’t have those fears. I know myself and my husband, and I know my children. They’ll learn and they’ll be healthy.

For me, I’ve had to deschool in a different manner. I’ve had to pull away from the idea that adults wake up, go to work, watch TV, eat, and go to bed. There’s more to life than that and I’m not going to fall into the trap of believing I shouldn’t expect anymore than that.

Over the past year I’ve starting writing again. It’s slow at the moment, but I’ve completed two novels. I’m working on another. I’ve outlined a children’s/young adult story that’s been heartily approved by the girls. I think I’ll finish this one before I finish my other one. lol I find I work better with multiple things on the go.

I’ve also taken up painting. It’s just for fun at the moment, but I enjoy it and that’s the important part. I’ve also been having fun cooking, baking, sewing, gardening….I keep finding new ideas and pursuits. I’m not sure which I’ll stick with, which I won’t. I’m not sure if any of them will ever make me money. None of that matters. What does matter is that I’m showing my children what a full life looks like. They see me spending time with them, with Ryan, with friends and family. They see me doing things for myself as well as my family.

Someone once told me that in order to be ‘happy’ a person needs to have ten labels for themselves that do not involve their role within the family or work force. Only in the past few months have I been able to actually say I’m leading a full life, by this definition. And I feel better than I have in years. I enjoy jumping out of bed each morning (okay that’s figuratively – I really love my bed int he morning) and wish there were more hours in the day in which to chase my dreams (and children).

Have you tried something new recently, pulled yourself out of your comfort zone in order to pursue your dreams?

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Unschool Life

When someone walks into our house, they see a home well lived in. Some people may see the paint on the floor, or the million-and-one pom-poms scattered from wall to wall. But others race in, unaware of the clutter. Instead they find one station or another and begin working.


At the dinning table we have crafts of one sort or another. Right now we have popsicle sticks, pom-poms, paint, feathers, and the glue-gun. We’re all working on a structure of sorts. We hope anyone who comes to visit will help build it. Though so far no one’s really shown that much interest in the crafts.

We have crafts supplies in various places around the house. We believe availability will increase the girl’s desire to create, as well as their ability to express. Right now the girls enjoy working at the kitchen table. It’s close to where I spend the majority of my day. There’s also easy access to food, music, and shows.

Over the past few months we’ve seen our girls blossom in their ability to create masterpieces using the materials available to them.

We try to keep snacks available at all times.

Beyond the stuff we strew around for the girls to use, they also find other items to play with, and new uses for old toys. Here are the scissors and Ariel wig Ella first used to practice hair cutting on.




We’ve moved bean-bags to the living room so the girls have a comfortable place to sit while watching shows or playing Wii. They also provide a place for the girls to climb and jump. Otherwise they climb on our recliners – I really don’t want our recliners broken, and I don’t want someone hurt by them flipping over the back. Now there’s a place for their BIG activities right there in the heart of the home.



1 Comment

Filed under Life, unschooling

The Hidden Danger of Toys

There’s nothing to do, but take it away. Someone gave Agatha a doll for her birthday, and she can’t have it. The head is disproportionately large, the eyes are huge, the one arm is stitched on a little crooked, and it has a cute little cupid bow mouth.

It has to go.

It’s nothing like a real baby and I’m concerned she’ll be upset because her eyes aren’t as large, or her mouth isn’t as small. I’m much too concerned for her mental well-being to allow her such a toy.

Everywhere you turn there’s another danger facing our children. One of the biggest, it would seem, are toys.

Don’t let your children play with a pretend phone, or their imagination will shrivel and die. Don’t let your child have a play sword, or a stick won’t be good enough. And what ever you do, don’t let your daughter play with Barbie, or she’ll forever feel inadequate and end up with an eating disorder.

I know what the studies say, but I think researchers are causing fear and panic where there needn’t be any.

No, I’m not taking any toys away from my children – unless you count the million and one bite size pieces Cordelia finds everyday.

Parents believe children are capable of turning a stick into a sword, a cane, a catapult, a bow and arrows, as well as a dog named Rover. Yet they can’t believe their children are capable of realizing a toy is nothing more than just a toy. For that matter they can’t believe their children will be capable of pretending a stick is anything, and everything, if they’re ever exposed to a real toy phone, or sword, or dog named Rover.

They use children from several generations ago as an example. “Our fore fathers never needed a toy, they just made do, and look at the fun they had.” But our Fore fathers only had stories about things they had experience with to some degree. A knight fighting a dragon was easy to imagine when they’d seen real fighting. Today’s children, thankfully, haven’t seen real fighting. There’s a lot today’s children haven’t experienced. Inherited memory only goes so far.

Through books we introduce our children to one idea or another. Mummies, pirates, kings & queens, as well as deep-sea diving and any other thought they care to explore. But sometimes they need an image in order to internalize it.

A toy sword is fabulous. They suddenly KNOW what the word ‘sword’ meant. From there any stick can become a sword, because they have the basic outline in their heads.

If we believe, have seen, that our children are capable of such a degree of imagination, then why are we concerned that a toy will interfere? To some extent a child may demand the specific toy in order to play, but I believe that’s more likely with older children, rather than younger children. A young child is still discovering the shape of the world. A hazy image can be anything. They have no basis on which to say it’s something specific because there experience ‘vocabulary’ is still so limited. But an older child knows that each item in the world has a true shape. And older children know that adults use the true shapes, not the hazy shadow children must settle for.  An older child insists on taking the first step into adulthood. A stick can no longer be a dog named Rover. A stick is just a stick, maybe a sword or a cane. In order to be a bow, it needs a string. As the child ages their awareness increases. Their willingness to remain blind to the true shape of the world diminishes.

Nothing can change that, not a million toys, and neither will the refusal to give toys. children are natural scientists, natural philosophers. The true shape emerges no matter what.

A Barbie is disproportionate. But a child knows that’s not the true shape of humans. I believe humans are more at fault for the poor self-image of children. A child told at five or six that’s she’s chubby may see a Barbie and wish she were thinner. But without the comments made by people, the thought wouldn’t occur to her that any shape other than her own is the true shape.


Filed under Parenting

Someone Broke Her Funny Bone

The girl’s discovered a new game – thanks to Daddy. For the past several nights we’ve had to play doctor. Before you get concerned, it’s not that kind of doctor. First someone must be injured in some way (pretend), then Mommy or Daddy give an ambulance ride on our back (Eoo, Eooo) around the house a few times. Then we diagnose the injury.

“Oh, no. Someone broke her funny bone. There’s only one cure…Tickles.”

We then proceed to tickle from head to toe, briefly. We stop and ask if they’re okay. They dissolve into fits of giggles and declare their funny bone’s still broken. This goes on until Ryan’s completely tired out and ready for bed. By then the girls’ve received enough love to allow daddy some space.

When it’s time for bed, everything runs smoothly. They ask for their story, they fall sleep. Easy. They’re secure in our love – and that makes all the difference.

We have many variations on this type of game. Another one we play quite often has been around since Agatha was about 6 months old. I’d hold baby in front of me, facing out, and we’d chase Ella around the house. When we caught her, baby would tackle Ella and we’d tickle her. Then it’d be Ella’s turn to chase us. I’d periodically turn so baby could see Ella, then with a squeal we’d turn and flee. This game helped the girls bond in such a wonderful way. It also wore them out in such a wonderful way. We now play this with Cordelia chasing the big girls. It helps put them all on even footing. It’s a game that allows everyone to play, and there’s no competition because everyone WANTS to get caught. After all, that’s the fun part.

We have many fights during our days.  “She took my toy.” “I want her toy.” “She’s sitting on me!” the list goes on. But ultimately those dissolve into nothing when faced with the many ways our girls do play together. They’ve both had moments where they don’t like the other – and that’s okay – because they overwhelmingly love each other.

If children can move beyond conflict by playing with each other, don’t you think parents can move past conflict by playing with their children?


Leave a comment

Filed under Parenting, Uncategorized

Life Learning

Homeschool. One word invokes such strong feelings in so many people. Fear, dread, anger. But for us, much stronger than any of those feelings, hope. Of course we’re planning a more radical approach than merely schooling at home. We’re traveling the unschooling road. For us, we believe, it’s the best fit.

We’re not afraid that our children won’t get into university. Partly because we don’t believe university is the answer for everyone. We know that if our children express interest in a career that requires a university degree, we’ll assist them in finding what they need in order to get in. We’ll also use a school board that both supports and has experience in the style of schooling our family uses.

Nor are we afraid that our children won’t learn what they need to know in order to lead productive lives. We already see their passion, their drive to learn. There’s no reason to believe that’ll change as they get older. Some people wonder if children will ever learn to read, write, tackle higher order mathematics, or finish ‘school’ with  a well round education.

We’re not concerned. We don’t belief someone else should decide what ‘well-rounded’ actually entails. Is it really important to learn American history? Some might say yes, but what about people living in Australia? Do they learn American history? If so, do they learn the same as Americans? Probably not. Living in Canada it might be important to learn about the Canadian political system, and at least some Canadian history, but it isn’t really necessary. But since Ryan and I are moderately interested in politics and are open and vocal about what we’re watching/reading/listening to, the girls are exposed to that. As for world history, again because Ryan and I are moderately interested, the girls are also exposed. If they choose they’ll also pursue more information. But it doesn’t matter if they choose not to. If they’re really interested in pursuing a career or lifestyle that requires them to know certain bits of history, then they’ll find the knowledge they need, and if they choose not to, then it really wasn’t something they were interested in enough to focus their life work on it. The same goes of any other subject,including math. Certainly it might be better, in some ways, to tackle math easily without the aid of a calculator, but people are perfectly capable of living productive,happy lives without knowing how to do calculus. As for basic math, we see the girls already tackling it. Adding and subtraction is necessary in order to play games they enjoy, in order to know ho much money they have/will have in order to purchase items. Math is used in day-to-day life, and as long as we don’t force it on them, they will learn it.

Even within school some subjects are left behind. There’s nothing wrong with skipping certain areas of information. There’s nothing wrong with focusing more heavily on one area, less on others. It is wrong to have someone else arbitrarily decide what areas to focus on, which to leave behind. In school, it doesn’t matter if a student wants to read every work by Jane Austen, what does matter is what the teacher wants the students to read. Some students may pursue their preferred areas of interest on top of school curricula, but not all of them will have the energy. Not all will have the drive.

Which brings me to another point of concern many people express. What about the child that just doesn’t want to learn?

Ultimately I don’t believe that child exists. Certainly there are students that hate school, that refuse to do homework, that disrupt class, that fail. Time after time. It doesn’t mean they won’t pursue what they’re passionate about. It does mean they’re not passionate about the subjects being fired down their throats. When allowed to follow their own path right front he start, students don’t lose their drive. They follow their interests and naturally learn about so many different subjects.

It so happens we were singing songs from my childhood. “Yankee Doodle’ illicit squeals, and sparked interest. Ella wanted to learn more. She wanted to know more about why who Yankee doodle was, about General Washington. She’s since been learning about the American revolution, slavery, women’s rights, and asking tough questions. These are subjects that many students don’t approach until seventh grade, yet at less than five she’s interested and wants to know more. She has the time and energy to pursue many of her interests each week. Gymnastics, horseback riding, dance, sports ball, French. All of these, plus focusing on learning her letters, writing, learning about mammals, cellular biology, earth worms and how they help the garden. These are just a few of the interests expressed in the past week by one child. Each child will be different, but ultimately if an adult allows them the freedom to learn, they will.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, unschooling

A Picture in her Head

We read Ella a West African folk tale today, “The Hunter’s Five Sons”. She had several questions, but the most pressing for her was, “How did the hunter die?” The story said he was dead, but no mention of how, only that his sons found his bones in the jungle. We talked about possibilities for a while, then she paused and told us she had a picture in her head of how it happened.

This is her story of the pictures as close as I could manage to what she told me. She talks fast, and wanders while she thinks. I find it difficult to write and walk at the same time, but more difficult to hear what she’s saying when she leaves the room.

The wildebeest charged the hunter, while the hunter shot at the wildebeest with his bow and arrow. The wildebeest smashed him into a flutter of bones. There were some trees in the back. The four brothers were behind the trees.

Page 2 (she’s telling the story based on the picture in her head, each portion needs a new picture and a new page)

You can’t see the four sons anymore. But a nice, big robot comes over to look, and a nice, big hyena comes and flutters the bones farther in the jungle until they’re all over the jungle.

Page 3

Then the four sons appear walking close to him (hyena). They saw a bone the hyena left in his throat. Each bone had a story laying beside it, telling how to bring the hunter back to life.

Page 4

They found a comb beside the other two bones. They pick them up slowly. They find a bookmark, and pick it up slowly. Then they found the wildebeest by following it’s tracks.

Page 5

The book was called, “How to Kill a Wildebeest”. They used the book and then scattered his bones.

Page 6

A little toy robot said all the bad animals will follow their tracks trying to flutter their bones. The sons lookaed and saw something special coming close.

Page 7

Next to the next bone, a leg bone, was a treasure chest. THey opened the treasure chest and found a huge diamond inside.  They also found a book that told them how to make the diamond small enough to go in their pockets.

Page 8

Then Cordelia comes over (the real Cordelia, from our world) and finds the wildebeests bones and follows their footprints until she catches up.

She asks them, “Where are you going?”

“We’re going to find the rest of our fathers bones, want to come with us?”


Page 9

They found the next bone, it’s the other leg. They also found a flower, a treasure chest and two very golden flowers. They were told that whoever sneeked them will have something really horrible happen, but they made them small and put them in their pockets.

Page 10

Then there was a spy glass. There were Ella and Agatha (the real Ella and Agatha from our world)too. They found their baby and joined her so she wouldn’t be lost. Corelia told them where they were going.

Page 11

Then there was an owl and a bear, they followed their footprints as well. They also found flowers, but didn’t pick them. A ferocious lion startled them and jumped in front of them. They ran and saw another bone in a tree. Cordelia climbed up and got it. Then she read the book and said, “Omni ola omia boya guog put these bones together and make them flesh.”

Page 12

Then a reindeer (It’s a real reindeer from our world) followed their footprints and a little mouse (the mouse wasn’t from our world) was walking and followed their footprints.


And that is where I had to stop writing because Agatha was running wild and Cordelia was crying. I personally love how my children are, apparently, capable of traveling between worlds. I also loved how she had the books give information to the characters. They had to find the books in order to use them, they had to quest for all the bones. She had magic words that needed to be spoken. I am absolutely amazed at her crafting ability. I hope one day to be as good of a story teller as she is now. I hope you enjoyed her story as much as I did.


Filed under Stories