Friday, September 13, 2013

Not Back to School Picnic

Every year we celebrate the fact that we are not going back to school...
This year we played in the sunset and the beautiful phosphorescence with our friends!

Beautiful artwork.

Beautiful conversations with so many beautiful people...

Beautiful times enjoying the evening, the swimming, the view, and the sunset.

Beautiful friendships.

Beautiful phosphorescence.

Beautiful night.
We are grateful for the world we live in, the lifestyle choices we've made, and for the people who share this beautiful life with us!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Parkinson's Walk

Yesterday we went to the annual Superwalk for Parkinson's. As usual we were entertained by the kids we had with us, and then returned to the house in North Van for some yummy brunch.

My sister Mischa volunteers for the society.

Walkety walkety walkety... L to R: Daddy/Grandpa, Mitch with Aiden in stroller, Mischa, unknown-purple-shirted walker!, Roberto, Rhiannon and Tali, Bree, baby Jack and Hermelita/Grandma. :-)

Gratuitous baby photo...

Mischa and Aiden

Would you like some funny-dancing entertainment??

Grandpa and Jack

Ooooh - it's the hall of tubular mirrors...

Ceperley playground is pretty cool.

Every family needs a good photo-bomber!

MacDonalds Advertisement...

Oh yeah - that was a fun morning; now time for hugging Grandma's leg...

Complete Chaos

Welcome to our disastrous abode!
This is how we've been living for over a month, now. We're redoing one end of our house... while still living in it. Consequently, about 3/4 of our belongings -- the contents of the library, office, 2 bedrooms, and the attic -- is in the living room and dining room. Alarmed face.

It's pretty alarming.

How much stuff we have!!!!

It's pretty frustrating to live this way; there's no room for some necessary jobs like threshing our oats (that's a basket of harvested but un-threshed oats in the middle of the photo on the right), there's no room to dry the laundry when it's not dry enough outside (and unfortunately the weather has not been cooperating), there's no place to sit and eat dinner together, so we're just eating on the porch until dinner, when it's a bit too wet and chilly, at which point we huddle around the bare corner of our box-covered table, and try not to spill on the living room floor. And things get lost. You put something down, and invariably that means you put it somewhere on the pile of other stuff -- and you will never see it again! Like the hairbrush. That was lost for three days.

So -- just to document for ourselves, and to share with friends and family who might think we're exaggerating a bit... here are some photos.

The view from what normally would be the dining room! All the piles of wood are our dismantled beds, storage unites, shelves, etc. On the right you can see the free corner of the stored dining table with some stacked chairs beside it. In the evening we unstack them (but then it's impossible to get to the other side of the house) in order to eat dinner.

Part of the problem is that this little project has gone on long enough that the stored belongings are now getting waded and dug through, as the kids want to find things they supposedly need. (Bah!!)

But here is the silver lining -- or the plywood lining, I should say! Our attic now is lined with plywood (it used to be just rotting insulation and torn vapour-barrier) and it beginning to have some of the things put back into it! What you see below it is the partially-finished new office, with the lovely french doors going outside, which will now bring some beautiful light into our house from the west!

And here's our bedroom! Same shape and size, but the bed and closet have switched sides, and the rotten/moldy wall and floor have been replaced.

Now some spackle -- and then the fun begins when we we get to decorate it!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Not-Back-to-School Day!

Today is the day we celebrate our decision not to go back to school.

Six years ago, at the end of a year of part-time Kindergarten for Taliesin (which we thought was sort-of-unschooling, or at least homeschooling, at the time), we swallowed hard and accepted that actually it was school. And we would never be happy with school. Tali wasn't happy; we weren't happy. It just wasn't for us. I had to find a way to tell the school's director. I put it off for days, until I suddenly found myself on the phone with him for other reasons, and nervously blurted out something like: "We've decided to try full-time-homelearning...?"

He grinned audibly. "Oh that's wonderful! I just know Tali and you will be so happy."
I felt like my feet were lifting off. I could feel wings sprouting under my heavy shoulder blades.
The joy felt like a whisper of feathers on a great, big, warm wind:

We're not going back to school.

We're not going back to school.

We're not going back to school.


I didn't really know what unschooling was, and I fought it for the first while. I was afraid to be radical, but also wanted to embrace it. I called us life-learners. I set up what I thought were simple schedules, open 'learning times', even though I felt that learning happened any time... but every year we are growing.

Eventually we embraced the word unschooling as I became more comfortable with our radical nature. Yes I know we don't fit in. And quite frankly, that's why we're doing this: because I think the 'norm' is wrong. I will go right out there and say that even though many people feel it's right for them, I think having kids in schools is causing untellable harm to our society. It's wrong. I've looked on from the outside for long enough, now, that I see from a different angle. I know that will alienate people. But part of embracing the unschooling is embracing our authentic selves; our true feelings, and our true beliefs.

Unschooling is certainly not always easy. It means we have less income; there's less time for me to develop my career, and there's a lot more onus on us, as a family, to help our kids grow strong and healthy. We, like everyone, find and face challenges all the time, but the more I see that the challenges are only to be solved by changing myself (instead of re-working the kids' lives), the more we get through them intact, and the more we emerge stronger and happier.

And we are happy! Nearly every day I look at my life and I feel truly truly grateful for all that I have -- and our decision to unschool is right at the top of that 'all'. I love that my career is evolving around my kids and that they are witnessing exactly how one develops a career. I love that they see the downs and the ups. I love that we (and they) have so much responsibility, because I see how much they embrace that; how mature they are becoming in their considerations and dreams. I love that their dreams are intact. And I love that I can say that, despite the bumps along the way, every single year, on the whole, is even more wonderful than the last. I love that I am able to share my children's lives with them, and that we've found ways to grow, together.

Happy Not-Back-to-School Day, everybody!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tie Dyeing!

Tie Dyeing is one of my favourite ways to explore! Every few years I buy a bunch of excellent Procion fabric dyes, and we get together with other people and put a bunch of colour into our lives!

This is a lot like the paper-folding play I posted about, recently: Through experimenting (in this case with chemical combinations, colours, fabrics, process and social interaction), there is endless growth and delight to be had by people of all ages. We might not be able to quantify and record the specific skills we acquired, and by how many levels our skills have increased, but the skills, inspiration, and confidence that we have gathered from the experience will be invaluable for our next life experiences.

Late-Night Phosphorescence Birthday Party

One of our favourite things to do in the 2nd half of the summer is to go swimming late at night in the sparkling flashing brilliant phosphorescence. So this year, Rhiannon suddenly requested to have her birthday party early (because her birthday doesn't actually come until October), so that she and her friends could swim in the phosphorescence. That would mean a very late party, but we delightedly agreed, and last night we made it happen!!

A rather squat-looking whale cake...

Arriving at the beach at 8:30PM!

Most of the intrepid night-time partygoers, trying to sit stone-still for a flash-less night-time photo...

Glowstick madness.

Glowstick insanity.

Post-swimming wet people.

Happy birthday my beautiful girl!!

Closing comments, while walking up from the beach, sometime late in the night:

Rhiannon: "That was a great birthday party!!"
Mama: "It was a wonderful idea!"
Rhiannon: "And wonderful people!"