Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Cold Frames

I never got around to blogging about it, but last fall I built a cute little cold frame. My intention was to try and have spinach growing and harvestable during the winter/early spring. I bought wood for 2 frames, made one (2.5'x2'), and put it into operation. I got the glass from old windows that I asked for on freecycle. (They turned out to be windows that were removed after the 2001 tornado damaged this person's house; they wanted all the windows in the house to match.) I bought the last spinach plants at my local nursery and what I thought was kale. It turned out to be broccoli :-) I stuck them in my cold frame which sat on top of my sheet mulched bed around the young blueberry bushes. They loved it. The broccoli pushed against the glass top until I encouraged it to do something else. The spinach (just 3 plants) was so small until a few weeks ago that I did not want to harvest it for fear of killing it.

But I did finally get brave and harvest some spinach for salads a week or two ago. I was then further inspired. I ordered spring seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This weekend I built and installed another larger (2'x5') cold frame. I plan on doing a second large one today. Yesterday I planted kale, spinach, swiss chard, and lettuce mix. I am trying to figure out how to track my efforts in the gardening arena so I can figure out what works and what needs tweaked. I'll let you know when I decide!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vernal Equinox Potluck Party

Join us as we welcome Spring on Saturday March 20, 2010 from 3-7+ pm at our house. It is a potluck, which means we all get to sample lots of yummy (homemade! local food!) dishes that everybody brings. We will provide dishes which show off the delicious pork sausage and salad greens from our local farmer friends. I am sure there will be fresh bread made with our home-ground whole grain flour too.

If you have a favorite or unique game/activity that you'd like to share with us, please do so. We are always looking to experience new things. Who knows, you might spark a new passion for someone at the party!

Many years ago, I understand it was commonplace to bring your own basket with dishes, cups, and cutlery when you went places. I believe they are called picnic baskets ;-) We want to revive this tradition, so please pack up a basket with dishes your family loves to eat off and join us for the feast!

Whether you are a homeschooler, yoga lover, locavore, cyclist, life learner, or none of these - we look forward to celebrating the coming of Spring with you. Do RSVP please so we know to expect you!


Yesterday we enjoyed a fun day with our unschooling friends. We played lasertag and went to the Air and Space Museum Annex by Dulles Airport. We decided to have a monthly get together and rotate where we go and what we do. Want more info? Head over the the MidAtlantic Unschooler GatheringS page.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Way Cool Article About Energy Usage

Ok, you have to go read this RIGHT NOW!

How many cyclists does it take to power a hairdryer? The answer's 18, as one family discovered in a unique TV experiment

Ok, now go turn off some energy sucking appliances and lights!

My Newest Green Project - Cloth TP

Ok, so I have been thinking what new things I can do to reduce my impact on the Earth. I was casually reading over at The Organic Sister and came across the idea of cloth bathroom wipes. Of course! When I had babies, they wore cloth diapers and I washed them. No problem and no trash. I use a Keeper instead of disposable feminine products. No trash created there. So why do I use toilet paper which get flushed, sits in the septic tank, and then goes to the landfill? Because I never thought about it. Now that I have, I am using cloth there too!

Step 1: I got a kick in the rear to begin this new project when someone offered a cloth diaper pail on freecycle. Having given my pail away a while ago, I thought I needed it for my bathroom again. So even though it had been days since the offer was posted, I emailed and got it. Score!

Step 2: I have stacks of old clothing waiting for a new purpose. I had always assumed I would make cleaning rags, but my rag bin is pretty full right now. However, the specific item of unwanted clothing I had sitting around is kids underwear from Hanna Andersson. They were so well worn that I can't pass them on to another user but they cut up into cloth wipes just fine!

Step 3: I cut the fabric into the wipes the size of my hand. They are double or triple layered and serged on the edges (in red for identification). A pretty basket holds them on the vanity right beside the toilet.

I did the sewing and set everything up yesterday. I was so excited to try the cloth wipes out. The next time I had to use the toilet, I forgot! I was so sad. Dear Daughter helped me remember next time by hiding the toilet paper and giving me no choice. By that time rolled around though, she had already pronounced the new goods a success. Yea for us and the Earth!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Cool New Magazine

I love reading what Tara over at The Organic Sister writes. When I visited there today, she was telling us about a cool new online magazine called Rethinking Everything. They are even giving away the first issue to some folks so I wanted to tell you about it too.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Parent Job Description

Your Job as a Parent of an Unschooled Child
The article below was written by Anne Ohman of the Shine With Unschooling group.

We have always unschooled. Unschooling came easily to me and my family, because I learned early on to trust my heart and my children. But for those for whom unschooling does not come easily, I try to give them the guidelines you may be asking for here. If your question is “Please define my role as an unschooling parent,” here’s what I’ve come up with this morning:

I believe that your role as an unschooling parent is to show your children as much of the world as you can, and let them choose from it what they love and want to further explore. You accomplish this by expanding their worlds with interesting objects and places and people and events and tools and books and magazines and television shows and…(this list could go on for quite awhile).

It is your job to answer their questions, without shame or sarcasm, because all questions are valuable. If you don’t know an answer, it is your job to say, “I don’t know,” and offer to look it up with your child (I tend to say, “Hmmm…I *think* it’s this…but I’ll check to make sure…).

It is your job to be interested in the world. It is your job to ask your own questions about the world. I believe it’s an unschooling parent’s job to be excited themselves about learning the incredibly cool stuff there is to learn about the world. Learn from your own children how to be curious, aware and interested.

It is your job to pursue your own passions in life. This has numerous benefits, not only to yourSelf and your Spirit, but to your child as well.

It is your job to know your children and get to know them again and again as they grow and change. Get to know what it is they love, what it is that interests them. A big part of my job involves spending time looking for various resources in the area of my children’s passions – books, tools, people, events, classes, gatherings, websites, lists – and offer them up to my children. This is how I encourage my children to pursue what they love in life, by feeding them things that they may be interested in until they’re not interested in it anymore. (They are also quite capable of *feeding* themselves in the areas of their passions, or anything else that may be new and interesting to them…but right now we re just talking about the unschooling parent’s job…).

It is your job to learn about how children learn, by reading about unschooling, by un-learning everything you once believed to be true about forced learning.

It’s your job to sometimes think out loud, to initiate interesting conversations, and to be open for discussion where you may have just shut the door before. It’s your job to realize that your child will have different opinions and thoughts than you do, and to respect that and perhaps even broaden your own world from it.

It is your job to Trust the Children. Trust that they Love to Learn, and when they have a need and or desire for information, they will get it. Trust that learning isn’t separated into subjects as school would have us believe.

It’s your job to see the world through your child’s eyes. Understand where they’re coming from, and when conflict arises, it’s your job to stop and really think about if the resolve lies within the child, or within yourself. It’s usually within ourselves.

It’s your job to see Learning in places that you’re not used to seeing learning. I was even able to find it in Ed, Edd & Eddy cartoons…it’s there if you look. It’s everywhere if you look. And once you start seeing it, the world will open up to you and your child.

It’s your job to Love your child, and to Learn from your child. It’s your job to go into each day with an open mind and heart, trusting in the fact that you may not know where the day will end up, but that you began it from that magnificent place that is a child’s curiosity.