Picking flowers and unschooling

In our garden, flowers are for picking.  We make sure to leave some for the bees, too, but what fun would it be to have flowers that can’t be picked?

Here is what Mia did with (while I took pictures of) our pick-able flowers the other day:


This was Mia's plan from the beginning. Isn't it lovely?

Watching Mia independently satisfy her curiosity and plan and execute her own projects is thrilling to me.  No parental instruction or judgment (praise, criticism, or otherwise) was involved in this flower bowl project.

I told her I thought the bowlful of flowers was beautiful–a sincere comment that came from my heart.  I consciously avoided saying “Good Job!” or giving her a grade for a job well done. Mia was completely satisfied; her motivation and her reward were purely intrinsic.

And that is why we unschool.  To let her carve her own path.  For herself.

Mia learned all kinds of things doing this project.  Do I have any idea what those things were? Not really.  Not because I am lazy or because I don’t care. But because it doesn’t really matter. Because unschooling is about trust.

Unschooling is trusting that life and learning cannot be separated.  I trust that Mia’s desires and motivations are stepping stones to her ultimate destiny. I trust that she needs to draw for hours every day for weeks on end.  I trust that sometimes she needs to daydream and be lazy instead of help prepare dinner. I trust that as long as I am closely tuned in, give her love, support, and space, that she will learn what she needs to live whatever life she chooses.

I am delighted to be along for the ride.

Lazy gardeners’ rhubarb patch

Our wildly thriving rhubarb patch has been almost untouched for most of the time we’ve owned it.  We are the laziest gardeners I know; we love the food but don’t like the work.

This year I wanted to make the best of this huge patch of free food. It was a fun family adventure.

If any of you readers are interested in some free rhubarb, let me know.  There is plenty to go around.  Just come over and pick it up this week!

a photo of rhubarb sauce over vanilla ice cream would have been more appealing, but this will have to do. It is delicious. Trust me.

Rhubarb Sauce

4 C chopped rhubarb

1 C sugar

1/2 stick butter

Melt butter and sugar over medium heat.  Add rhubarb. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it becomes saucy.  Puree in blender.

I might try making this with Stevia or Xylitol next time.  That way we could eat it freely without the negative effects of sugar.

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. From SouleMama.com

Happy Friday, friends! Wishing you a lovely spring weekend!

My pudgy baby wants to eat!

For about 14 months, Anna has been exclusively breastfed, except for the few nibbles of food here and there.

I would love to know how many hours I have  spent nursing her, how many calories I have expended doing it, and how much milk she has drunk. I think it would blow my freaking mind.

Because this baby has only had my milk (and does not have cow’s milk or formula and hardly any food), I am absolutely astounded by how plump she is! And big! Not to brag, but seriously! Look at her! She just grows and grows and the rolls keep on rolling.  I am starting to wonder whether I produce Half&Half instead of milk.

Nursing her exclusively has made my life pretty easy. I have an easy solution for all of her problems. When she is sad, tired, hungry, or needs to pacify, I nurse her.  I have nursed her during dinner instead of giving her expensive formulas or canned baby foods.  And the greatest benefit, perhaps, has been how healthy she has been.  That has made life pretty easy, too.

So the other day, my life became a bit more complicated. Anna wanted to eat! And eat, and eat, and eat…

And suddenly, I had an irresistible instinct that felt as urgent as nesting at the end of pregnancy: I had to make a bunch of food, and I had to make it NOW!

I made hard-boiled eggs, brown rice, peas, spoonfuls of coconut oil, and thawed blueberries and raspberries.  I smashed it up (but not mixed together) and put it in front of her three times that day.  And she ate it all.

Although I am a bit saddened by her transition into foods (partially because it won’t be AS easy anymore and partially because she is turning into a toddler), it makes me really happy and satisfied to see her eat such wholesome food so eagerly.

devouring every last bit
Evidence of my fatty milk

I can’t get the links to work…

So if you want more information on child-led weaning and breastfeeding, google that.

Also, google Weston Price Foundation for great information on healthy eating and feeding babies and toddlers.

a few of my favorite things

I woke up to a glorious Saturday morning, with nothing planned for the day except whatever we felt like doing, which ended up being…

Mia finding a pole by our good parking spot with 15 free minutes in it

a morning trip to the Mill City Farmer's Market

eating crepes for breakfast

Anna frollicking in front of Mill City Museum

the first breakfast wasn't enough, so we had these, too.

As you can see, we spent roughly $32 on breakfast this morning.  And as much as I love the Mill City Farmer’s Market, I regrettably report that the food we ate deserved maybe one star…or not even.

Anna meeting a friendly "wow-wow"

Finding a local artist who makes something I love: tiny terrariums with tiny plants hanging from old window frames.
I fell in love.
I fell in love.
And I fell in love again. This one came home with me.

an impromptu visit to grandma's garden and the surprise of blooming Azaleas

...and various other lovely blooms

a statue reminding me of a roly-poly little person in my life

and last but not least…

a dry ride in grandpa's new boat

Happy Saturday, friends!

Mother’s Day vacation

We spent the weekend at Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement, our second time there this year.

We love this place.  Not only only is it a simple, stress-free getaway close to home, but it’s cheap, too.  For us, being a one-income family means not taking tropical winter vacations.  Or driving new cars or donning fresh, trendy hairdos…

…but for $115 for a cabin that sleeps 8 (split with another family=CHEAP), who can go wrong? Our weekend in the (almost) wild left us feeling connected and rejuvenated and looking forward to next time.  We were also reminded that making memories does not always mean spending lots of money.

The settlement has eight cabins, each with eight bunks, table and benches, an outdoor fire pit, and a wood-burning indoor stove.  The cabins have no electricity or running water, but what they lack in amenities, they make up for in charm.  Staying here made me feel like like I was Laura Ingalls for a couple of days.

The Lodge at Baker is open 24 hours a day and has modern amenities, sans shower.  A large refirigerator and other storage areas are available for our use. Cooking and dishwashing happen at the fire pit.  An incredible, knowledgeable staff is around 24 hours a day to help and entertain us.  The staff coordinates activities all day long–enough so that no one could imagine being bored here or having nothing to do.

We made our stay as simple as possible by bringing cold, premade food and using paper plates and disposable cups and utensils.  Last time, we made our stay as complicated as possible by having greasy sloppy joes and washable plates and utensils. I know, our disposable mindset was not very earth-friendly or responsible.  It was, however, oh-so family friendly and much easier than washing dishes at the camp site.  I figure we can make up the difference the rest of the year by using cloth napkins and diapers, right?

We did not go canoeing, but I love how canoes look stacked on top of one another like this, so I posted the picture. The kids were too young to go on the lake. I didn’t mind; my fear of open water keeps me on dry land as much as possible, anyway.

That is Alisha at the top. Not me.

This is Anna watching Alisha climb to the top.  I think she wanted to do it, too.

This trip would not have been fun without our trusty Ergo baby carrier. Or without breastfeeding or co-sleeping, either, for that matter.

Click here to see our photos from our winter stay at Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement.