Lessons Learned the Hard Way- Foraging!

I have stubborn children-children that must learn some lessons on their own (I have no idea where they get it from).  Fortunately for us-up to this point in time, no one has seriously gotten harmed.  However, we have had some close calls already this year!

Second up-Foraging!  Earlier this year, we began learning about wild herbs and edible plants.  The boys find wild edible plants exciting as they learn about survival in the outdoors.  Sawyer imagines that she is a wizard as she concocts potions out of the herbs and plants.  I enjoy learning about natural remedies and how we can use “weeds” in our everyday cooking.

The kids forage in the woods for different plants that we can eat.  Typically, they bring home mint and wild spring onions.  They know these plants well.  Thus when Parks brought home a handful of spring onions, we gladly washed them and prepped them to add to our dinner-lettuce wraps with tempeh, vegetables and peanut sauce (one of my favorites).  After dinner one of Nick’s friends dropped by for a bit.  About ten minutes into the visit, Parks popped over to me and whispered that he had just gotten sick in the sun room.  So I quickly closed up the sun room and got him into the shower to get cleaned up.

I headed back into the kitchen to clear the dishes and immediately, the feeling rushed into my body.  You know the feeling- the OMG, am I going to make it to the bathroom fast enough? How do I sneak out without being rude and without losing my dinner in the process?  Luckily, I made it to the bathroom to pray to the porcelain god.  I then got cleaned up and headed back out to the kitchen only to see Nick’s face turning a nice shade of red.  Note that at this point, Nick knows nothing except that in his mind my peanut sauce is not sitting well on his stomach (what? really?  my peanut sauce? uhm…no).  I nicely let him know that maybe he should excuse himself (because I know that it comes on fast).

With one more down, we start the investigating.  Three of five people down and out with vomiting and a splitting headache.  Since Sims and Sawyer did not get sick and they did not eat the onions, I quickly put it together.  We obviously did not eat wild spring onions.  At the time, I had no idea what we ate.  After a google search, I could only come up with death camas-luckily for us, those only grow in Western states of the US.

We all survived the night and visited with friends throughout the week.  While telling the story of our near poisoning to death,  one of my friends filled in more of the puzzle.  The morning after the dinner, I noticed a beautiful array of daffodils on my nightstand.  My friend asked if Parks found the “onions” near the daffodils.  Parks looked surprised and answered, “yes.”   Well, you guessed it.  We ate immature daffodil bulbs.  When you research are daffodils edible?- you find out that all parts of the plants are poisonous!

Fortunately for us, no ER visit this time!  However, we still learned a tough lesson!


Lessons Learned the Hardway: Fire

I have stubborn children-children that must learn some lessons on their own (I have no idea where they get it from).  Fortunately for us-up to this point in time, no one has seriously gotten harmed.  However, we have had some close calls already this year!

First up-Fire!  As many of you know, my oldest son lives for fire.  He wanted to be a fireman at the ripe old age of 2.  The feeling has intensified.  In fact, now he aspires to be a smoke jumper or an ER doctor.  He feels very confident around fire.  I am sure you have seen in previous posts pictures of him around the fire in our backyard.  He is always the first person to ask about making a fire whenever we are outside and it is a bit chilly or there are marshmallows in the house.

Recently, he and fire met for real.  We went to a friend’s house to go out for a hike.  Near their home, a controlled fire smoldered.  Of course, my fire-loving child desired to investigate further.  Cautiously, he went to look at the smoking pile. In one step, the ground under him shifted (most likely because it was recently on fire!) and his foot went down into a hole.  Luckily, he has excellent balance and he avoided a full body fall into the fire.

So we headed out on our hike.  He asked if we could stop for a second because he had something in his shoe.  Of course, we stopped while he took off his boot to shake it out.  Meanwhile, I notice a hole in his brand new socks.  I asked him if he knew what happened to his sock.  Of course, he had no idea but he did tell me the story above.  I immediately asked him to remove his sock so that we could look at his foot.

Second and third degree burn.

Second and third degree burn.

Uhm…yep.  No hike but a fun trip to the ER and a very important lesson learned.

Picture Post

I am out of words this week so I am sharing some pictures of things we have been up to!

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Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve

Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve

We changed up our usual hiking spot this past Friday.  Instead of visiting Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, we headed southeast to Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve.  I have known about this park for a while and wanted to check it out.  We were lucky enough to have some friends join us, one of whom is a master naturalist.  Thus, we had a walking/talking historian and naturalist to educate us throughout our hike!

We knew as soon as we entered the park that our hike would be fun.  In the parking lot, we found coyote scat (I know that I normally take pictures of EVERYTHING, but I spared you this one).  The preserve hosts a bog and a wonderful pond which is where we ventured to first.  The bog was almost dry which allowed the kids to explore throughout the bog looking at animal prints and trying to find frog eggs.  Around the edge of the bog and at one end, we found evidence of beaver activity-LOTS of beaver activity!

Overall the paths were frozen.  The frozen ground preserved the amazing and abundant coyote prints!  The key feature of the Ribbon Walk Nature preserve is the beech tree.  The preserve serves as the home to hundreds of American Beech trees.  They are old and beautiful!  We learned that beech tree only grow in undisturbed land; thus, you know that the area is “old.”  We also learned about vinca major and vinca minor and how the slaves in the US used vinca to mark the graves of their family members.  Vinca is not native to the US but is an invasive species from the Mediterranean and northern Africa.

We only had a couple of hours to explore on this particular day.  However, we do plan to return with a picnic and some water shoes!

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“Precious things are conveyed to the younger generation through personal contact with those who teach, not – or at least not in the main – through textbooks. It is this that primarily constitutes and preserves culture.” Einstein

“Precious things are conveyed to the younger generation through personal contact with those who teach, not – or at least not in the main – through textbooks. It is this that primarily constitutes and preserves culture.” Einstein

Einstein

We live in an area with a lot of opportunities.  I would say that we are lucky to have all that we have; however no matter where you live, you have a community with wonderful opportunities waiting to help you!

Close to home: How can you collaborate with your neighbors?  Many neighborhoods have committees that kids can participate in.  If you know the gifts and talents of your neighbors, they may be willing to mentor you or your child in a subject matter.  We do not socialize much  with our neighbors.  However, one of our neighbors is a lady with an invaluable history.  My children have adopted her as an additional grandparent.  She teaches the children about many different subjects and a lot about life.  They LOVE to go visit her (in fact, I think they visit her almost daily).  Adolescents who are ready for some independence may also begin a home business such as mowing lawns, leaf management, pet sitting/walking, selling eggs, babysitting, etc.

Family and Friends: Do you have a friend or family member with a special talent or who would like to teach your children “a class?”  Friends and family ground us!  We are lucky enough to have two sets of grandparents in town-all with their own set of talents!  We also have a fantastic network of friends who are willing to share their talents and spaces.  Simply hanging out with another family can teach your children valuable lessons.  They are able to see how other families work together and how they live.  The kids learn about other cultures and traditions.  If you live in the city, try to visit someone who lives on a farm for a day or vice versa.

Local Parks and Resources:  The park system provides programming for people of all ages.  The best part, at least in the US-we have local, state and national parks available.  The parks also have terrific web pages with loads of information where you can learn the history of an area, the flora and fauna, local resources, hikes and much more!  The library provides many programs for the public.  Volunteering in your local community opens up the opportunity for new relationships and discoveries.

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Mentors:  With the amazing help of an internet search, you can help your children find a mentor.  Sometimes finding a mentor is an easy task and other times it is tough.  However, the process alone is amazing.  My son has perked an interest in blacksmithing (more on this in another post).  We visited a blacksmith in town who taught him some amazing history but he wasn’t ready to be a mentor.  Thus, Sims is still on the search.  Sawyer is interested in costume design.  She is working with our local theatre to meet up with and observe the costume designer.

Extracurricular classes: Our family utilizes extracurricular activities a lot.  Again, there is ALOT going on in our town but some of these are available world wide such as scouts.  My son chose to participate in Boy Scouts this year.  Wow have I been amazed by this organization.  The scout activities give purpose to all the activities that Sims loves.  He can use his talents to teach others and he has a whole host of people available to teach him as well.  Scouts requires Sims to demonstrate and learn excellent communication skills, organizational skills, group processing and accountability in addition to the scout activities such as knot tying, climbing, camping, hiking and such.  Sawyer loves theatre and singing.  She participates in a class that teaches the work behind the stage, the production of a play and the actual acting.  Just as scouts for Sims, theatre requires Sawyer to learn communication, organization, accountability and responsibility in addition to the acting, singing and producing.  Parks is still young but even he uses his classes to pursue his interests.  He craves to create especially with clay.  He works with a local potter who allows the children freedom to create what they want but is able to teach new techniques and help problem solve.

The internet: You can probably tell from most of my posts that we are not a huge technology family.  However, we do use the internet to use to connect with people.  If you cannot find a local class or group, many times you can find one on the web.  With the use of Skype and facetime, you can chat with professionals or you can participate in club.  Our children meet up with their friends on the Spirit Animals site.  The site requires them to have read the books to get more points.

Are you missing something in your homeschooling?  Search your community to help you fill in any gaps and to support your children’s interests!

No Curriculum Required

No Curriculum Required

Around here it is the time to look at curriculums, schools and plans for next year.  This time of year always gets me thinking.  Are we in a good spot?

Are the kids learning new information? how to learn?

Are the kids happy?

Are they engaged?

For the first time ever since I became the parent of school aged kids, I am content.  Yes, we are in a terrific spot.  We are not stuck on curriculum.  Life is learning.  When the kids are interested in something, they go with it.  They delve into the subject finding out all that they need.  They laugh daily. They argue daily.  They are learning so much more than information in books.  They are learning about being a good neighbor and citizen, nature, being a good friend, being a loving sibling, emotions, cooking, health, money, reading, math, and being a teacher.  They are engaged in life.  They plan.  They make goals.  All of the important information that they are learning comes from life.  No curriculum can teach all of this.

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Week in Review

Week in Review

The weather in NC continues to be cold and wet like most places this time of year.  Of course, we are not letting that slow us down.  This week the kids had an Adventure Journaling class at Latta Plantation where they went to journal in the snow on Tuesday.  Wednesday most of the slush melted only to be replaced with fresh new snow.

The kids were up bright and early Thursday morning to get in some sledding and playtime.  One of the nice parts of NC snow is the quick disappearance.  It snows and it melts.  Thus by the afternoon, we were able to visit with friends.  The kids had wars, built forts and went exploring through the woods for wild animals.  They had a blast telling us about their adventures that afternoon (and I had a blast hanging with my friend’s, laughing with my friends and learning from my friends).

Then today, Sims and I went on our Friday hike (the other two kiddos chose not to go today).  I had no idea how much fun it would be to head out on the trails after snow fall.  We decided to look for tracks.  Within the first half mile, we identified skunk, raccoon, deer (buck) and rabbit tracks.  We then headed down to Gar Creek to check out some of Sims’ favorite spots at Latta.  When we returned home, we were welcomed by trail markers leading us to a snow owl family in the back yard and lunch in the dining room.

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Next week starts our last quarter of our “school year.”  I amazed at how quickly this school year has passed.  I hope everyone ha a terrific week!