Turning In

Lately, I’ve been spending much of free time (read: minutes stolen, here and there) delving into radical unschooling books (right now- Free to Learn by Peter Gray), listservs, and (egads!) Facebook groups. One piece of advice that keeps cropping up is “turn in.” Turn in to your family. Look inward. Find joy within, rather than without. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been being intentional in doing just that.

I’ve been working on connecting with Jude more fully doing the day. I’m trying to become knowledgeable on the things he likes. Last week, I was able to help him figure out how to make a video whilst playing Minecraft. And! I was able to locate the (free) software he needed to record the videos, install it, and help him learn how to use it. Over the weekend, we purchased a second Minecraft account so that either Josh or I can play with Jude instead of just watching him play. In the midst of my searching for other Minecraft-y things, I found a website called DIY. You earn badges by completing challenges from different categories (Minecraft, LEGO, archery, graphic design… just about anything you can imagine). So far, Jude has completed two challenges in the Minecraft category. Once he completes another, he’ll earn his first badge. And! Thanks to some Christmas gifts from his Grandma Rose, Jude has been able to blend two of his most favorite things-Minecraft and LEGOs. Over the past few weeks, he has had a blast putting together two of the three Minecraft LEGO sets he was given.

Beyond Minecraft, Jude and I have started reading the Harry Potter series together. So far, I’ve read the first book to him and just a bit more than half of the second. He is making some headway on learning to read and spell. It really is amazing to watch him gain these skills in his own time and in his own way.

Nearly once a week for the past month, the kids and I have been making our way to the various museums Chicago has to offer. We’ve also been doing a lot of indoor play (jumping on the trampoline and beds, swinging on the kids’ indoor swing, crawling through the play tunnel, building with LEGOs, hide and seek… Oh gods, so much hide and seek) since it has been so cold. Our Wednesday morning breakfast date with our local neighborhood artist-friends is an event that the three of us really look forward to each week. That set time out of the house also helps me feel like we have a bit of rhythm to our weeks.

In addition to requesting more hide and seek than I ever thought imaginable, Ramona has been really into building “castles” and “nests” lately. Whenever the playroom gets the slightest bit tidy, she goes in there, takes each block from its stack, and lines it up. Then she adds wooden rings, cowboy hats, ballet slippers, cloth napkins-whatever else she can find, really, and declares it “all done!” She loves to watch Kipper and Dinosaur Train, eat clementines, dance, and have me read book after book after book to her.

So. What can I say about these past few weeks of intentionally turning in? Well, really trying, and being “on, ” has been hard. It has also been extraordinarily rewarding. It is most certainly a work-in-progress, but I do feel like I’m making strides forward, each day.